A therapy activity library and a new approach to aged care has earned two Kiwi charities a place among the finalists in the Asia Pacific Eldercare Innovation Awards.

The awards, to be held in Singapore in May, acknowledge excellence in active ageing, dementia care, innovative practice, design and architecture.

The Therapy Box and The Selwyn Foundation will represent New Zealand in the awards, commonly referred to as the ‘Oscars of Elder Care’.

The Therapy Box, which lends activity boxes to aged care facilities across the country, has been named as one of the best programme innovations of the year.

Chairperson Hannah Young said the library had been lending for less than a year.

“We really didn’t know what to expect when we entered the awards. It is super exciting.”

She said the library which is entirely staffed by volunteers, was unique.

“What we do is quite different. We aren’t aware of anyone else running a library quite like this.”

She established the charity after working as a diversional therapist.

“I found that some rest homes were well equipped, but others were short on resources or had run out of ideas. I thought that there had to be some way to help them.”

Facilities can buy an annual membership to have boxes couriered to them, and members of the public could also sponsor a rest home.

The Therapy Box was limited “only by our imagination”, she said.

“It’s been a great learning process to set this up. Being named as a finalist is really exciting and it’s nice to have some recognition.”

The Selwyn Foundation’s new participatory care philosophy has been shortlisted for the care model innovation of the year category.

The new style of residential aged care is showcased by new facilities at Selwyn Oaks village in Papakura and Selwyn St Andrew’s in Cambridge.

The facilities have four small communities or ‘households’ of twelve residents. Each ‘household’ functions like a home, where residents have their own room with ensuite and share a the rest of the house.

Selwyn Oaks village manager Roland Phillips said the layout supported the new way of delivering care.

“Our unique ‘care partnership’ approach provides holistic care planning focussed on all aspects of a person’s wellbeing. The interior plan and the accessibility features promote people’s independence, and a new way of working for our staff reflects the importance we place on the whole person and their overall wellbeing, and will enable residents to continue to take charge of their own lives, be empowered and heard by all their care partners.”

He said the new approach followed a review of the most innovative thinking in residential aged care, leading to the introduction of ‘The Selwyn Way’.

Five elements, operating in a holistic way, underpinned the approach – belonging, spirituality, resilience, contentment and growth. These were reflected in every aspect of care delivery and facility design, he said.

The winners will be announced on May 16, in conjunction with the International Ageing Asia Innovation Forum in Singapore.


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