Tauranga leads way in groundbreaking dementia care

  • Tauranga is the first city in New Zealand where dementia patients can access tailored in-home support, specific to their stage of diagnosis.
  • For every person diagnosed with dementia, another two to three people are impacted.
  • “EnlivenPlus” aims to keep dementia patients in their own homes for longer by providing a wrap-around service for the patients and family.

Tauranga is set to be the first city in New Zealand to have access to a groundbreaking new service for people living with dementia and for families struggling to cope with caring for loved ones.

The service, “EnlivenPlus”, offers people tailored, personalised one-on-one support throughout their journey with dementia, starting from their initial diagnosis. Its aim is to enable people to remain in the comfort of their own homes for as long as possible.

It is the first service of its type available in New Zealand and is provided by Enliven, the health and disability arm of Presbyterian Support Northern.

“One of the biggest frustrations New Zealanders living with dementia have is that decisions are made for them, but not by them,” says Wendy Hoskin, Presbyterian Support Northern GM Health and Disability.

“EnlivenPlus puts the person living with dementia, their partner and their whānau at the heart of decision-making and everything we do. We help them navigate New Zealand’s complex health systems to get the support they need while enabling them to live a purpose-driven, stimulating and future-focused life.”

“EnlivenPlus has been developed in response to the growing need for greater support for people living with dementia at home. It is based on local and overseas research, our own experience caring for people living with dementia, local focus groups and consultation with health specialists, GPs and other dementia specialist organisations.”  

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a group of symptoms that interfere with brain function. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, accounting for 60-80% of cases. Currently, 70,000 New Zealanders are living with dementia, but this number is expected to triple as New Zealand’s population ages over the next 30 years alongside the social and financial costs of living with dementia. For each person diagnosed with dementia, another two or three people are impacted by the diagnosis. The majority of care is undertaken by often frail and elderly spouses – the ‘hidden’ cost of dementia is enormous.

“With the rapidly increasing number of people diagnosed with dementia, it’s important that we start preparing now. Most people with dementia live at home, most have some family support, but some live entirely alone, unsupported.

“One of the common challenges is that families struggle to cope with caring for someone with such a complex condition, and this can lead to the person with dementia prematurely going into residential care. EnlivenPlus aims to turn this on its head by offering tailored support, including regular day-time respite, enabling people living with dementia to remain in their own homes for longer,” says Hoskin.

“Helping people living with dementia live their best life starts by working with the person and their partner and whānau to acknowledge, but not be defined by the diagnosis, and to truly listen to the person with dementia so nothing happens without their input.”

An important part of the service is enabling every individual living with dementia to remain living a purposeful, fulfilling and connected life, continuing to do the things they love.

This is done through an EnlivenPlus care team, the person’s dementia champions, made up of healthcare professionals who specialise in or are trained in dementia care.  

Each client will also receive cognitively stimulating activities that can slow the progression of dementia; and a ‘This is Me’ portfolio that is developed with the person living with dementia and their whānau to capture their life story, identify what is important to the person now, and what may become important in the future.

Furthermore, EnlivenPlus clients receive a Kitcal, which is an easy-to-use, simplified tablet device that enables them to easily stay in touch with family and friends and reminds them of their appointments.

EnlivenPlus is initially a private programme with costs mainly covered by a monthly subscription. It will initially be rolled out in Tauranga in April 2022. For more information, visit www.enlivenplus.org.nz

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