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Media release: October 22 2015

New hospital care unit opens in Whanganui

Whanganui has a brand-new hospital and dementia care centre to help cope with growing demand for specialist care for older people in the region.

Mayor Annette Main officially opened the multi-million dollar extension to Jane Winstone Retirement Village today. The new hospital wing at the village includes a 20-bed dementia unit and 10 new hospital beds.

The dementia unit has been designed using the latest in thinking for residents with dementia, including interactive walls, theme areas, bright colours and home furnishings. 

There are an estimated 60,000 New Zealanders with dementia and this is set to grow to 154,000 by 2050, according to Alzheimer’s New Zealand.

Managing Director Simon Challies said it was an important investment for Ryman Healthcare and for Whanganui.

“Our commitment to our residents is that we will provide them with care, no matter how their health needs change over time. Demand for a higher level of care has grown and that’s why we decided to extend the village.’’

It is the second major investment in the village in the past two years – in 2013 Ryman invested more than $1 million to earthquake strengthen the historic chapel that forms part of the village.

Mr Challies said the dementia unit was designed to provide a calm and therapeutic environment for residents with dementia.

“It is designed to look as much like a home as possible – we try to design out the challenges of a secure environment. It is designed so that residents can find their way around easily and not feel restricted and locked in.’’ 

Bright lighting, low sound levels and making good use of large open areas were among the keys to good design.

 “If residents are calm and aren’t agitated because we’ve invested in good design then the job of our staff is made easier. Staff can concentrate on therapy that will make their residents’ lives more enjoyable.’’

The Whanganui District Health Board gave Ryman Healthcare the go-ahead to open a hospital care facility on the St John’s Hill site last year.

Whanganui, like the rest of New Zealand, has an ageing population. According to the 2013 Census, 14 per cent of the population or 5,790 people were aged over 70 years. The number of people in this age group is expected to more than double in the next 30 years as the population ages.

Jane Winstone Retirement Village was opened in 2006 and offers independent living as well as care and is home to just over 200 residents. It employs 84 staff.

About Ryman Healthcare: Ryman was founded in 1984 and has become one of New Zealand’s largest listed companies.  The company owns 30 villages and serves over 9,000 residents in New Zealand and Australia.  Each village offers a combination of retirement living and aged care.

Media advisory: For further information, photos, interviews or comment please contact Corporate Affairs Manager David King on 03 366 4069 or 021 499 602.

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