New fence gives dementia residents freedom

Bolga Court Residential Aged Care facility, while idyllically situated on the shore of Lake Hume on the Victorian-NSW border, was also a potential danger for residents living with dementia.

Bolga Court’s location allows its 36 residents to enjoy the outdoor environment and move freely in the grounds. For those with dementia, there were times when management was forced to secure residents inside Bolga Court’s buildings, only giving unrestricted access when staff could escort them. Restrictions on moving at will between indoors and outdoors can be very distressing for people living with dementia.

Additionally, the Tallangatta Health Service couldn’t accept community members with significant dementia as the facility wasn’t considered safe without adequate fencing. This meant that people in need of a higher level of care were forced to stay in their home for longer without sufficient support, or they had to move to Albury or Wodonga, away from family and community.

A $42,446 Caring for Ageing Rural Australians (CARA) grant, supported by the Ian Rollo Currie Estate Foundation, allowed the Tallangatta Health Service to build a 1.8m high-security fence with a fob-operated gate along the boundary of the facility and Lake Hume.

With the fence installed, residents, particularly those with dementia, now have unrestricted and safe access to walk, garden, socialise and exercise in the grounds whenever they choose, without the danger of contact with the water. The new fence also gives families comfort that their loved ones are safe.

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