A change of culture

The WISER Project using the Montessori approach involves a 3-year culture change program using consulting expertise to help create a Montessori environment run by trained staff. The project utilises Alzheimer’s Australia’s ‘Relate, Motivate, Appreciate’ as a starting resource for this environment.

The WISER Project focuses on the Montessori approach in community dementia care and is based on Wellness, Innovation, Support, Enablement and Research. Through the WISER project we aim to improve the quality of life for our clients and to challenge preconceptions regarding community based respite centres.

Because our clients are living in the community, the activities we offer can differ from Montessori activities typically used in residential care. We have taken the principles of the Montessori approach and applied them to a wide range of activities geared to individual interests while maximising the abilities in daily life of each client.

At HDRC Services we hope that through the WISER Project we will validate the use of the Montessori approach in community dementia respite care and its potential to delay the need for clients to move into residential care and keep them living in the family home and engaged in their community for longer.

The WISER project has been incorporated into the organisational culture and has become integral in all aspects of HDRC services.

Within our centres, we have created a home-style lounge, kitchen, and Sensory Gardens, and have plans for a dementia-friendly cafe.

Montessori Champions put their knowledge into practice each day, mentoring staff and working with family carers to assist them to adopt the principles at home.

The outcome will be a professionally researched, ground-breaking program introducing Montessori approach to dementia and disability respite care in the community.

The WISER Project using the Montessori approach

With the financial support of the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation (VFFF), HDRC Services has introduced the Montessori WISER Project formerly known as the‘Lighthouse Project’, a unique and innovative respite care model using the principles of the Montessori Approach.

For the first time, we have implemented the model in a community setting using Alzheimer's Australia’s ‘Relate, Motivate, Appreciate’ program.

The Montessori method emphasises the importance of keeping the person living with dementia as independent as possible for as long as possible. The approach helps to maintain independence through a range of activities: sensory, social and cognitive, and those involved in daily life.

International and Australian research has demonstrated that Montessori principles can have a major impact on health outcomes of people with dementia living in nursing homes and other residential care environments. Through real-time research, HDRC Services is hoping to demonstrate that the approach also has positive outcomes for people living with dementia in the community.


A new approach to dementia

The Montessori Approach offers new ways of thinking about dementia and those with the condition. Importantly, it provides person-centred care without reliance on potentially harmful anti-psychotic medication and sedatives.

The project explores new approaches to connecting and working with the person behind the dementia. It emphasises independence and activities that have real meaning and purpose for them.

The WISER Project will include a research initiative driven by the local campus of Southern Cross University. As the project develops, we will share the results on our website.

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