Plans include dementia beds

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 05:00 10/12/2013

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Highfield Rest Home's capacity could increase by 20 beds if a planned expansion goes ahead, including some much-needed dementia beds.

The retirement village's owners recently bought two Preston St properties to accommodate expansion. The properties are each about 600 square metres.

The rest home, which is in Avenue Rd, currently has 44 beds and is run by Bupa Care Services NZ.

Bupa's South Island operations manager, Jo Powell, said between them the two properties could potentially have the capacity for at least an extra 20 beds.

"We haven't yet developed any plans or firm ideas. We are looking forward to working with the health board, our staff and the local community to determine what would be best for the population of Timaru," she said.

Ms Powell said there was no "set time frame" for the developments, but it would talk to the Preston St buildings' tenants before it filed consents to demolish them.

"The new complex could include a dementia bed wing. Like most places in the country, Timaru has an ageing population. People want to be as close to their own family and friends as possible as they get older. We want to accommodate people and their needs," she said.

Earlier this year, the Herald reported instances where South Canterbury people with dementia had been forced to seek live-in care in other parts of the South Island because of a shortage of beds in the region.

Highfield Rest Home does not have any dementia beds.

South Canterbury District Health Board chief executive Nigel Trainor said the region had 42 rest home dementia residential care beds and one dementia respite care bed. He said there were eight rest home dementia residents out of town, waiting to return when beds become available.

"If there are no beds available in South Canterbury, and the person cannot be supported in their own home safely, residents are placed in beds out of town for their care," Mr Trainor said.

He said the board had developed several new services for dementia clients and their caregivers, including a dedicated dementia rest home bed for respite care to provide caregivers with a break.

Ms Powell said there were a number of challenges, because Timaru had a proportionately large aged community. According to the 2013 census, the Timaru district population has increased by just 2.4 per cent since 2006, to 43,932. However, the district's proportion of people aged over 65 rose from 18.3 per cent in 2006 (7848 people) to 20.5 per cent in 2013 (9000 people).

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- The Timaru Herald

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