Leading in-home aged and health care provider Silverchain has started to modify its community ‘social centres’ to better support West Australians with memory impairment.

Cooloongup resident Sandra Easdown (70) attends the Rockingham Social Centre twice a week. “I like it there (at the social centre), I do a lot of craft,” Mrs Easdown said.

Social Centres and Volunteer Manager Kerry Watts said her team was excited to embark on a culture change journey. “We are in the process of transforming from the existing traditional service to one that is more inclusive, person-centred and based on a ‘household model’,” she said.

“Social connections have proven benefits for people with dementia - reducing loneliness and cognitive decline, avoiding mental health conditions, and maintaining independence. We believe we have a responsibility to those who access our services to create environments that are safe, engaging and support their wellbeing and reablement.”

Members at the social centres have exposure to normal day-to-day risk, while they are supported to be independent and offered choices, as well as given the opportunity to develop new skills.

“Our teams work in partnership with our members to explore new and innovative ideas they wish to implement, this can include using technology, such as smart boards and Tovertafel tables, gardening projects, art and crafts and excursions. There is a sense of freedom, unlike a traditional model which is structured,” Ms Watts said.

For Sandra’s husband Peter, seeing the joy it brings to his wife helps him cope with her recent Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

“She wakes up and remembers she is going to the centre in the morning and has a smile when I pick her up,” Mr Easdown said. “I can drop Sandra off knowing that the staff not only understand their clients, but they really go out of their way to ensure everyone is looked after. Her quality of life is maximised when she visits the centre, and to me, that’s the most important thing.”

More than 800 West Australians with memory issues are supported by Silverchain services, which includes in-home care as well as the social centres. There are 13 social centres in Western Australia, with six social centres located around the Perth metropolitan area and seven in regional areas. The centres offer a comfortable, home-like setting to more than 500 members each week.

“The enabling household provides a framework to support our members, their families and our staff and volunteers,” Ms Watts said. “We are committed to providing best care for every person, every time through personal, safe, effective and connected care. We understand how important it is to maintain social connections, and we aim to develop these environments further to engage our members in opportunities that have more individual meaning and purpose.”