Regional facilities 18 September 2023

Cobram connections help ease transition to aged care

Dementia Action Week 2023 runs from 18 - 24 September. Dementia Australia’s theme is Act Now for a Dementia-Friendly Future.

The campaign encourages Australians to increase understanding and reduce the stigma of dementia.

Dementia can affect thinking, memory and behaviour. Over the age of 65, dementia affects almost one person in 10.

Dementia Action Week also promotes more support and better systems for people living with dementia to live well in their community for longer.

Dennis and Elsie, both in their 80s, have been married for over 60 years. After meeting in Cobram aged 15 and 16, they went on to live, work and raise children in the close-knit border town in Victoria’s Hume region.

Community life played a central role, with Dennis and Elsie active in local sporting clubs and their church.

So, when Elsie developed dementia and her condition worsened, it was fitting that community ties helped find a way forward.

Dennis's son suggested he talk to a woman he knew through local football who worked at NCN Health’s Irvin House, a public residential aged care facility.

Meeting aged care needs locally

Rural and regional Victoria has a higher proportion of people over 60. That’s why investment in building public residential aged care facilities in areas like Cobram is so important.

A $2.1 million refurbishment of Irvin House was completed in 2022, funded through the Victorian Government’s Regional Health Infrastructure Fund.

The refurbishment included:

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Communal spaces nurture social ties

Upgraded communal spaces help residents and visitors nurture social ties – as well as build new ones.

'Everyone who comes here is just like, “wow!”. 'You can tell a lot of thought has gone into it,' says Dennis.

He enjoys the variety of spaces for him and Elsie to spend time during his visits.

The couple enjoy sitting in the internal courtyard to enjoy the fresh air. He says it's also nice that they can choose between social or quieter spaces depending on their mood.

The large kitchen area means residents and visitors can relax together comfortably. At the same time, it provides an opportunity to socialise.

'Not everyone has regular visitors,' explains Dennis. 'But because we often know something about their family - part of living in a rural community - it's not hard for me to strike up a conversation.'

'I often see new residents come in and I know it can be confronting for them and their family. I try to talk to them a bit and let them know it's a great place to be.' 

Dennis, husband of Elsie, a resident of Irvin House

Familiar faces help ease the transition

Moving a loved one into residential aged care can be a difficult decision. But Dennis says being able to access quality aged care within his own community makes the world of difference.

'I often see new residents come in and I know it can be confronting for them and their family,' says Dennis. 'I try to talk to them a bit and let them know it's a great place to be.'

Dennis and his family already knew some of the Irvin House staff, many of whom live locally. And being only a 15-minute drive away, it's also easy for Dennis to visit.

He also likes that the couple can continue to enjoy their meals together.

'Actually, I consider Irvin House a second home'.

The courtyard of the St Georges aged care facility

Living well in public residential aged care

By focusing on the needs of residents in public aged care, we can create a supportive environment that enhances wellness and promotes independence.

Learn more

Get support

Visit the Dementia Australia website.

Find resources for ageing and aged care on the Department of Health website.

Learn more about our public residential aged care projects.

This page was originally published on 27 April 2023.

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