Residents meet residents at Braemar House.Braemar House in East Fremantle has a specialist care service (called Lee House) for residents with high level dementia care needs. A team of residents and staff at Lee House have recently undertaken a project aimed at building stronger relationships throughout the facility.

The project is called the Lee House Family Tree, and saw residents put up photos with a brief story about who they are, to share with fellow residents from Braemar House. This was a timely opportunity to introduce Lee House residents to the broader community and build inclusiveness regardless of each person’s condition.

As part of the same initiative, residents from the rest of Braemar House were encouraged to choose a pen pal from the Lee House Family Tree –  a resident whom they can write letters to.

The residents can write to their ‘new friends’ and establish informal meet and greet sessions, such as morning tea, where they will be able to mingle and interact with their new pen-friends.

Wayne Belcher (OAM), Chief Executive Officer of Braemar, said these projects aim to encourage inclusion and are the result of resident feedback.

“We want to help create bonds and relationships between those in the more secure part of the facility and those who are not affected by dementia; resulting in a better environment for everyone and reducing the stigma associated with dementia,” Mr Belcher said.

All our residents are valued people and this is a step towards acknowledging that.

“Our focus at Braemar is to provide relationship centred care. This philosophy ensures that resident’s needs and wants are at the forefront of each activity undertaken across our facilities.

“When residents said they wanted to better understand and interact with their neighbours at Braemar House, our team worked closely with the residents to establish an engaging program to facilitate this request.”

Mr Belcher said awareness of dementia, and a move to reduce the stigma often associated with dementia is very important for aged care providers.

“It is something we must focus on each day of the year. I am grateful that last month, the national spotlight was focused on dementia, allowing for a better understanding that people with dementia are valuable members of our community, but for aged care providers such as Braemar, this focus continues each and every day.”