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Montessori

The process of introducing Montessori principles into our dementia care began in 2013. It resulted from having identified how improving the quality and delivery of care would benefit people living with the condition.

In brief:

  1. Your unique skills and interests come first.
  2. Our WISER Approach is based on the Montessori method.
  3. Staff and volunteers are trained to support your lifestyle.

Staff, from what was then Hastings District Respite Care (HDRC), were impressed with the increase in publications and research on the adaptation of the Montessori method for dementia care. They had already initiated innovative programs - such as drama and water-based activities - at our HDRC day centres. Our team recognised this fresh perspective was a logical progression.

The Montessori Method was created in the early 1900s for childhood development and education by Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori. It quickly became adopted in many schools internationally and continues to flourish today. Dr Cameron Camp, an American psychologist, adapted this for dementia care in the 1980s.

Montessori principles have been adapted worldwide for people living with dementia, predominantly in residential care. They recognise the person’s individuality and adopt a rehabilitation aspect that incorporates the strengths, skills, abilities and interests of the person, enabling them to succeed and maintain independence. Research shows this has led to positive health outcomes for many living with dementia.

The HDRC team recognised an opportunity to adapt these principles for the community-based services we provide. So, the WISER Approach began.

The project, which received grant funding from the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation, has successfully introduced organisational and cultural change within the Omnicare Alliance - largely through comprehensive training for staff and volunteers. This approach underpins every aspect of the aged, dementia and disability services we provide.

Our WISER Approach seeks to enable a better quality of life through meaningful and purposeful activities that promote independence, enablement and maintaining community connections.

It’s based on gaining an understanding of each client's life story, then building a relationship with them that allows us to recognise their qualities, interests and abilities, so we can integrate those into the support we provided.

The pillars of the WISER Approach are wellness, innovation, support, enablement and research. An integral component of the project has been our research collaboration with Southern Cross University.

Omnicare recognises the important role of primary carers for people living with dementia. Our WISER Approach has involved us initiating Montessori training programs and chat groups to support them in their role. Feedback from participants highlights how beneficial they’ve found it for themselves and the person they care for.

The knowledge, experience and information that Omnicare can provide offers reassurance to clients and primary carers that there is practical support available.