Respite program expanded

A support program that offers people living with dementia and their partners a respite getaway has been expanded to other regions of Australia.

An innovative support program that offers people living with dementia and their partners a respite getaway has been rolled out to other regions of Australia.

The Staying at Home program launched last July. It is run by Dementia Support Australia –which is funded by the federal government and led by HammondCare.

Staying at Home allows people with dementia, their partners or other family carers the chance to stayover three days and two nights at a respite cottage or an Airbnb where they learn strategies to help them stay living at home together for as long as possible.

Tom Gauci

“Everyone wants to continue living at home – it’s our place of comfort, familiarity and security,” said Staying at Home project leader Tom Gauci.

In the first five months, couples attended seven programs in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.

Five new programs have been organised for south-east Queensland, NSW, Canberra and Victoria during February and March.

During their stay, carers are taught:

  • how to manage behaviour changes that come with dementia
  • how to obtain 24/7 support from DSA staff and other community services
  • how to plan ahead
  • how to care for their own wellbeing.
Marie Alford

“One of the great benefits of the program for family carers is they share experiences and learnings with others in similar situations,” said Marie Alford – head of Dementia Support Australia at HammondCare. “They know they’re not alone.”

Participants living with dementia also have the opportunity to share experiences and learn from other people living with dementia.

Among other things, the program supports them to continue activities and hobbies, such as going on excursions or gardening.

“The program was amazing,” said a family carer who attended a course in Victoria. “The opportunity to meet with other carers was very enlightening … sharing thoughts, emotions and suggestions was very helpful. Providing time away from caring duties let us all have a break. I returned home rested.”

The Staying at Home programs are open to unpaid carers living in the community who are supporting a person living with either a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of dementia.

Every carer relationship is considered including spousal couples, parent and child couples or secondary carers.

The programs are fully funded by the Australian Government, meaning no cost to participants.

The upcoming programs are already filled but Dementia Support Australia is planning more programs around the country for later this year and 2024.

Main image: A photo taken at one of DSA’s Staying at Home retreats

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Tags: Dementia Support Australia, featured, hammondcare, Marie Alford, respite, staying at home, tom gauci,

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