Charlie’s Village: The ‘positive’ initiative improving the quality of life for dementia patients

Jan 19, 2024
The initiative aims to provide an environment that fosters confidence, connection, and a semblance of independence for patients facing cognitive impairments. Source: Getty Images.

In a “positive” move to enhance the well-being of patients with dementia, The Prince Charles Hospital, in collaboration with The Prince Charles Hospital Foundation’s initiative, The Common Good, has revealed the transformation of its specialist dementia care unit into a village-like community area called Charlie’s Village.

The initiative, carefully crafted in consultation with frontline clinicians and geriatricians, aims to provide an environment that fosters confidence, connection, and a semblance of independence for patients facing cognitive impairments. The unit’s outdoor space has undergone a remarkable makeover, featuring custom-built facades reminiscent of a small village, including a hair salon, bakery, café, general store, hotel, and post office.

Recognising the impact of surroundings on behavioural changes in dementia patients, the village-like setting also serves as a positive diversion for both patients and staff.

Nurse Practitioner Khera Kim from The Prince Charles Hospital’s Delirium and Dementia Service expressed her optimism regarding the initiative, stating, “I think Charlie’s Village will help people feel more settled.”

“They’ll feel like they’re at the shops or at the café rather than in that acute hospital setting. It will give them something to engage with cognitively, and as the familiar scenes may jog some people’s memories and elicit feelings of nostalgia, they may have conversations about life outside of hospital and what they used to do,” Kim said.

“Bringing patients into an environment that’s more homely or looks like a normal community can help people feel better about themselves, and their quality of life can improve.”

Source: Supplied/ The Common Good.

With an average stay of 29 days in the Cognitive Assessment and Management (CAM) Unit, patients and their families often gather in the rejuvenated outdoor space for tea and coffee. The revamped village setting adds an inviting touch to these moments, creating an even more appealing space for loved ones to spend quality time together.

The official unveiling of Charlie’s Village took place in October 2023, marked by a special celebration held within the transformed space during The Prince Charles Hospital’s 2023 Giving Day on Wednesday, October 25.

Steve Francia, CEO of The Prince Charles Hospital Foundation, expressed his excitement, stating, “This is a prime example of the significant and positive impacts that can be achieved when people come together to help others live healthier for longer.”

“We are so excited that this space is now a reality for patients and their families and are proud to facilitate a project on behalf of the community that will help so many people for years to come,” he added.

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