In what is thought to be a New Zealand first, Summerset has opened a dementia care facility offering Licence to Occupy (LTO) apartments. The new centre, which is located at Summerset by the Ranges in Levin, opened its doors in November last year.  

The 20-bed purpose-built secure centre has 10 care rooms and 10 larger one-bedroom Licence to Occupy (LTO) apartments. The apartments each have a kitchenette, living area, separate bedroom and ensuite. While the LTO model has now been widely adopted in many facilities offering care suites, it is thought that this is the first time the model has been used for dementia care suites. There are still some LTO apartments available, however, Summerset says it is still early days for the new model. Meanwhile all the care rooms are full.

Gina Langlands, head of clinical services for Summerset, says it can sometimes be more challenging to deliver ‘care in place’ for dementia clients. As such, Summerset has taken a ‘pick and mix’ approach to its dementia care offering, selecting elements from various models of care like the Eden Alternative and Spark of Life to best meet the individual needs of each person.

Langlands says they have drawn on international research and best practice to get the right dementia-friendly design in place. She says the national dementia design guidelines – released after the centre was finished – have helped confirm what they’re doing is right. For example, the layout has no dead-ends and flows in circles. Good use has been made of multi-use spaces and attention has been given to features like discreet call bells. The gardens have also been carefully planned with dementia-friendliness in mind.

A lot of effort has also been put into making the centre feel homely. Langlands is well up-to-speed on the debates around safety versus independence; she believes there is a balance to be struck.

“It’s about being mindful of the risk, yet keeping the focus on maintaining quality of life,” she says.

Langlands says Summerset will consider rolling out the dementia centres model to other facilities if it is successful.

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