MORE than 400,000 Australians suffer some form of dementia.

While it can inhibit the capacity to socialise and enjoy life to the fullest, new measures are lessening the negative patient impacts.

Australian health care may not be as advanced as in the Netherlands, where radical villages provide residents with an environment in which to shop, cook and live together - safely, but facilities such as Premier Health Care's The Waterford @ Hervey Bay are initiating change.


Site Manager Sandy Kesting said The Waterford didn't have a "dementia", or "lock down" ward, they had a memory support area, which could house up to 19 residents.

"You wouldn't know the difference between the memory support area and the outside areas," she said.

BIG CALM: Sandy Kesting in the snoezelen room.
BIG CALM: Sandy Kesting in the snoezelen room. Emily Black

Ms Kesting said within the memory support area, was the sensations pamper lounge, or snoezelen room, where a multi-sensory environment was used to calm residents.

"You can burn oils, have some gentle music ... and just closing the curtains and having a really nice relaxing atmosphere," she said.

"We've got a great big ball, which is like a disco ball and it very slowly rotates.

"It's got the images on the wall and in the night it's quite dark and you will see them sitting in there, just very calmly sitting and having a cup of coffee and just watching this ball going around with the lights on the wall.

"It's really quite interesting to see how they settle and that's what we hope to have once we've got the residents in the facility."


These state-of-the-art facilities are now within easier reach as 20 grants of $15,000 have become available for non-profit and community organisations to implement initiatives to make programs and spaces more accessible, engaging or inclusive.

Dementia Australia client services executive director Susan McCarthy asked organisations to think about what they could do to support the inclusion of people with dementia.

"This could be a physical change, such as a dementia-friendly garden or installing clear navigation," Ms McCarthy said.


Applications for funding close on January 24, 2018, see for more information.