Your stories - Summerset

Dementia Friendly Recognition Programme - Your stories 
Summerset: “Putting dementia at the front and centre of everything we do.”

Summerset’s purpose is to “bring the best of life” to our residents. In order to meet our purpose, we have looked at the challenges people in our villages – and the wider aging community – face on a regular basis.

We are aware that many of our residents are living with dementia, or are caring for someone who is living with dementia, so it is important that as an organisation we put dementia front and centre of everything we do.

To do this, we have built an organisation-wide Dementia Strategy, and included becoming accredited as a Dementia Friendly organisation as a key goal. Alzheimers NZ’s Dementia Friendly Programme provided the framework and tools to get us underway, with clear standards to guide us.

In 2017, we successfully piloted the Alzheimer NZ Dementia Friendly Recognition Programme at Summerset by the Ranges, our village in Levin. This gave us a good understanding of what worked well at our village and what could be improved.

From this, we built an online national toolkit to support the remainder of our organisation. Currently over 20 villages and care centres, and 3 head office sites, are preparing to complete the programme.

One of the most exciting things for us has been to see how quickly everyone has taken up the challenge to be dementia friendly, as individuals and within their team. Many of us have relatives who have dementia, or are caring for someone with dementia, so this is important not just in our roles at Summerset but also in our personal lives.

Nigel, one of our Marketing Communications Advisors, said of the Dementia Friends online training module: “My father is in the early stages of dementia and this hasn’t been easy for us. And so I found the Dementia Friends programme really helpful in getting a better understanding of what he, my mother, and the rest of my family is experiencing.” 

Recently, we held a leadership conference in Wellington and the key theme was awareness of dementia and strategies for support. We also discussed how we can tackle any perceived stigma.

Our keynote speaker was one of our residents and her long-time friend who is now also her care partner. They spoke openly with us about their experience living with dementia.

This resident was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease over two years ago, and continues to remain active volunteering at the Village. Her friend and care partner said she herself has since become a ‘Dementia Warrior’, doing all the research she can and advocating for services. 

We have found the Dementia Friendly Recognition Programme to be a fantastic way to educate our staff and residents, and are thrilled with how integral it has become at Summerset even in the short time we have been involved.

Alzheimers NZ and Kate MacIntyre have provided us so much support, as have Dementia NZ, and we are so grateful.”