[dropcap size=small]A[/dropcap]s people age and their capacity to take care of themselves diminishes, they require help in carrying out the activities necessary for day to day living. In an ideal world this care would have been provided by their children, but the constraints imposed by modern life do not permit this in many cases. There are also situations where the needs of a person suffering from ill-health cannot be taken care of by a spouse or other relative. In situations like this, an institution like Resthaven is a godsend and can transform an older person’s life of desolation and hardship to one which can be lived with dignity and in an atmosphere of warmth and care.
Resthaven is a charitable institution which has as its focus the support of older people and their carers through a host of programs. These include:
- In-home care and support – An older person who is capable of living in his own home may require help for as little as an hour a week for shopping, cleaning or other activities. The person requiring care may be living independently or with relatives. Under this category packages are also available for more frequent visits by carers. Older persons who require help with their medication or require assistance to go for their doctor’s appointments can avail specific packages which cover such requirements.
- Residential services – This program caters to those who cannot live independently and require assistance for daily activities including showering, dressing and taking medication. Resthaven encourages residents to be independent and provides assistance only for those activities which the older person cannot conduct unaided.
- Independent living – These are living units for older people who are capable of maintaining an independent lifestyle. Residents of these units are welcome to use the communal facilities and participate in social activities and programs. While residents have a lifetime right to occupy the unit, it is not owned by them. After they cease to use it, the unit will revert to Resthaven. Older people whose needs for care increase over the years may opt to switch to Residential Care.
- Respite and support for carers – The purpose of this facility is to support carers of older people to have a planned rest or break. Resthaven provides planned or emergency respite for carers at their homes or in a community setting. The specific needs of the carer are addressed and there are a number of different options available.
Eligibility to Resthaven’s facilities are subject to an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) approval. Individuals may avail of Resthaven’s services without following this process by paying the prescribed fee for the required service. Those opting for the ACAT route are required to have their individual needs assessed by a team comprising geriatricians, social workers and other heath professionals.
Resthaven endeavours to improve the quality of life of the older people it caters to. An important way in which it accomplishes this is by developing an activity program for each resident. When an older person first moves to Resthaven he is interviewed by the staff and a record is created of the person’s history, preferences, abilities and requirements. This information is used to plan the individual’s activities. Every effort is made cater to the needs and requirements of each resident. Large print books are stocked in the library and local mobile library visits are organised to Resthaven. Outdoor trips, music programs and card and board games are arranged. Periodic reviews are conducted with each resident to determine their changing requirements.
Resthaven had its beginning in 1935 as a home for elderly ladies. By 1944 the capacity of the original home was exceeded and another property was purchased at what is now Resthaven Leebrook. Additional facilities were added over the years and Resthaven also started catering to men. The number of Resthaven establishments now stands at 11 with Resthaven Mt Gambier being the latest addition.
Dementia is a condition which reduces a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. It usually strikes elderly people but may also afflict those in their 40’s or 50’s. It is not necessary that all older persons will suffer from dementia. Resthaven has initiated a research project on dementia in partnership with Alzheimer’s Australia. It has also published a book about dementia based on interviews with 17 patients and carers. The purpose of this book is to sensitize people to the thought processes of persons afflicted with dementia. The book also offers revealing insights into the understanding which carers have of the person they support. A small proportion of the persons who are diagnosed with dementia are fortunate to have their illness treated and its effects reversed. However, a vast majority have to live with the condition for the rest of their lives.
Resthaven utilises the services of volunteers to good effect and has an on-going program which encourages persons to spend time with residents and participate in various activities with them. A regular visitor can be the high point of a resident’s day and volunteers are encouraged to become “Walking Buddies” or involve themselves in other ways when they visit Resthaven. Volunteers themselves gain immensely from the time they spend with residents and are grateful for the opportunity to help others and make a positive difference in their lives by spending a few hours with them. An extremely useful activity which volunteers are involved in is the Aged Care Alternatives program. Volunteers who work as Options Guides advise persons of the various services available that could support them.
The stated purpose for the existence of Resthaven is to provide outstanding care and support to older South Australians and their carers. It has won several accolades for the commitment and dedication demonstrated to fulfil its objectives. Among these are:
- In September, 2008 Resthaven was honoured by Aged and Community Services, Australia (ACSA). The CEO of Resthaven, Richard Hearn, won the Individual Award for “being a true champion of aged care.”
- Resthaven also won the Media Award for its campaign to influence how older people are portrayed in the media.
Its standard of excellence is unmatched
[/su_pullquote]Resthaven provides an essential service and has moulded itself over the years to cater to the changing needs of older persons. Its standard of excellence is unmatched and it provides various options including living at home, independent living and residential living. Its success over the decades can be attributed to its philosophy of putting its residents at the centre of all its efforts. Resthaven is unique in that it understands the needs and requirements of its residents and provides care and facilities based on the inputs received at the time of admission.
The Aged Care Act, 1997 stipulates that institutions like Resthaven are required to obtain accreditation for 44 quality standards grouped under 4 heads. These include staffing, health and personal care,resident lifestyle and the physical environment. All Resthaven residential sites have achieved accreditation for 3 years and have achieved positive outcomes for all 44 standards.
Ultimately, the quality of care in an institution such as Resthaven is dependent upon the warmth and compassion that its staff exhibits while dealing with its residents. It is gratifying to note that the CEO has this to say about the staff “The genuine care and warmth of staff in their work with residents and clients is most inspiring. It affects the daily quality of life of the people receiving services. It also affects the quality of life of their carers and families. I find inspiration in the positivity, kindness, commitment and dedication of staff, whose work is a vocation. The quality of care given, often under very difficult circumstances, is mostly of a high standard…”
Residents of South Australia have the good fortune to have an institution of the standard of Resthaven in their midst.