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Dementia Friendly from Whangarei to Invercargill

Written by David King
on July 02, 2020

Media release – July 2, 2020

Ryman wins Alzheimers New Zealand Dementia Friendly accreditation

Ryman Healthcare’s position as a dementia friendly leader has been recognised by Alzheimers NZ with Ryman gaining Dementia Friendly accreditation at all its New Zealand villages.

Ryman is the largest retirement village operator to receive company-wide accreditation under Alzheimers New Zealand’s Dementia Friendly Recognition Programme.

Each of Ryman’s 34 New Zealand villages, from Whangarei to Invercargill, is now a recognised dementia friendly community.

The accreditation acknowledges Ryman’s commitment to provide kind, caring and supportive environments that enhance the lives of residents with dementia.

Ryman Healthcare operations clinical and quality manager Karen Lake said the accreditation would inform how the more than 5,700 Ryman staff and 11,600 residents treated one another, making the accreditation a huge step toward Alzheimers NZ’s goal of a dementia friendly Aotearoa.

“We want the people living under Ryman roofs to have the best lives.

“That means listening to people with dementia, instead of assuming what people want in their lives,” she said.

Mrs Lake said people often assumed that people affected by dementia did not want others to know of their diagnosis.

Some residents liked people to know they had dementia so people could respond to their changes in behaviour with tolerance and understanding, she said.

The COVID-19 lockdown had been challenging for residents living with dementia, as well as family members unable to visit.

Mrs Lake said Ryman had installed Zoom software on more than 850 devices in its dementia care units, so that residents living with dementia could keep in touch during the lockdown. 

During the auditing process, the Alzheimers NZ panel, including a person with dementia, also considered how accessible Ryman’s website was for people with dementia, how dementia friendly practices would be reviewed, and what educational opportunities were available to residents wanting to learn more.

More than 1,400 Ryman staff have also completed Alzheimers NZ’s Dementia Friends module for individuals keen to learn more about dementia.

The programme equipped staff from across the company with knowledge of dementia, and introduced them to ways to support people living with dementia with small gestures of kindness, conversation and assistance.

As part of Ryman’s commitment to continually review and develop its care for residents with dementia, all new staff will complete the Dementia Friends module during their inductions.

Alzheimers NZ chief executive Catherine Hall praised Ryman for ensuring the needs of people living with dementia were at the fore of life in its villages.

“We are very impressed by how Ryman and its staff have embedded the dementia friendly concept into ‘business as usual’.

“In doing so, they have transformed their organisation.”

The Dementia Friendly status follows an in-depth two-year process during which six Ryman villages were audited as a representative sample of the company’s New Zealand villages.

As part of the accreditation process the villages adapted and enhanced everything from the physical environments of villages including the provision of way-finding cues, to educating staff about how to support colleagues working with people affected by dementia.

During the audit Alzheimers NZ sighted evidence showing that Dementia Friendly practices were being applied across all Ryman villages in NZ.

The accreditation builds on a partnership between Alzheimers NZ and Ryman Healthcare which was developed last year to combat stigma, grow understanding and acceptance of people living with dementia, and inform policy and practice in New Zealand.

For information about Alzheimers NZ’s Dementia Friendly Recognition Programme and its Dementia Friends initiative contact Daniel Paul (021) 400-993

See Dementia Friends Recognition Programme and Dementia Friends

About Alzheimers New Zealand:

Alzheimers NZ is the lead organisation working at a national level representing people living with dementia.  Alzheimers NZ focuses on raising awareness of dementia, supporting people with dementia to live well, and advocating for more and better services for all New Zealanders affected by dementia.  Its goal is to help build an open and inclusive society - a place where people living with dementia feel valued, where they can contribute to and participate in their communities, and where they feel safe.

About Ryman Healthcare:

Ryman Healthcare was founded in Christchurch in 1984 and owns and operates 36 retirement villages in New Zealand and Australia. Ryman villages are home to 11,600 residents, and the company employs more than 6,000 staff.

Media advisory: For further information, photos, interviews or comment please contact Corporate Affairs Manager David King on 03 366 4069 or 021 499 602 or Communications Advisor Maryvonne Gray on 027 552 0767.

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