Living with dementia and still enjoying a life with meaning and purpose

In the eyes of the carers at St Louis on Sea people living with dementia can still live meaningful and purposeful lives. Our approach to dementia care is to work with people’s abilities, and help them to live actively, contributing to and participating in all aspects of life at home where possible.

The improvements we see in our clients’ day to day lives have been an inspiration to us. People who were once thought to be deteriorating past being able to do anything for themselves, have changed their course to embrace a new lifestyle actively involved in everyday activities.

St Louis on Sea was established to provide a normal home-like environment with the sound and smell of meals being prepared and cooked in the kitchen, day to day home activities such as the laundry and cleaning, and the sunshine streaming into the windows for an afternoon chat over a cup of tea and a biscuit. This small and luxurious 8-bedroom shared home is located across the road from the beach at Victor Harbor, so we all enjoy an afternoon stroll along the beach when the weather permits.

How active living helped this client return home to his family

One of our wonderful success stories was a client living with dementia who needed 24x7 care so his family brought him to St Louis on Sea. After a few months of care, he improved so much that his wife decided to take him back home. With personalised and attentive care, we helped him to remember that even with dementia, he was able to help out at home, preparing meals and involved in other house activities, and be more engaged with his life in a meaningful way.

As someone who was always healthy, fit, active and a keen fisherman, he found some of the limiting factors of dementia very frustrating. His wife was finding it more challenging to care for him. After a long stay in hospital due to an illness, his family realised they could not bring him home immediately and sought professional care. His illness had sped up the development of his dementia and the family were told that his worsened condition had become permanent.

A smaller aged care residence where he would receive personalised and attentive care was a priority, so the family decided to bring him to St Louis on Sea in Victor Harbor.

“It was the care. They just put the care in 24x7 and they had him for three months. It was virtually one on one care – that’s what he needed and we could not get that anywhere except somewhere that had a smaller number of residents like St Louis on Sea. He started playing table tennis, he was eating well and sleeping through the night.”
Family member.

For more information about caring for a loved one living with dementia, Dementia Australia offers free courses for carers and families to learn how to care for people living with dementia. They have a dementia friendly community initiative which aims to educate the general community about acceptance, and creating better environments for people living with dementia.

Tailoring care to specific needs – Montessori Dementia Care

When this gentleman and his family came to visit St Louis On Sea, they were impressed with the warmth of the home, our philosophy and approach to care.

He was able to do much more than what was obvious upon meeting him. Our carers’ proactively seek to support people living with dementia to be as involved and engaged in life as possible. We adopt the Montessori approach with an every human being has the right to be treated with respect and dignity and to live their life with meaning and purpose, regardless of their age and ability.

“He needs to feel useful and the staff had him doing work, he loved it. Now I’m finding it possible to have him home for a while which I never thought was possible. They concentrated on things he loves like fishing. It’s made him happy and relaxed and he recovered some of his former self.”
- His wife.

With attentive care, we helped him remember that he had skills that could be put to good use. When he first arrived at St Louis on Sea, he was unhappy about living away from his wife. But he gradually improved, and after a few days he was participating and happily contributing to house activities and daily chores.

In about a week, he was:

  • Always smiling
  • Bringing us flowers
  • Looking forward to his family’s visits with their pets
  • Enjoying helping with the chores around the house which included sweeping, vacuuming, gardening, hanging out the washing, and helping to prepare meals
  • Appreciating the outdoors and strolls along the beach
  • Playing table tennis
  • Listening to old LP’s on an old-fashioned record player we keep at the residence and tapping his feet away!
“The staff at St Louis were incredible. They cared about what he ate and asked him what he wanted to eat every day. I am so grateful to them because I watched him get better and better under their care.”
- Family member.

“We assist people to live, not to exist”

Sherrill Bickmore is the care manager at St Louis on Sea, and in her words, “we assist people to live, not to exist.”

After a few months at St Louis On Sea, the family brought him back home for a trial stay, adopting some of the care techniques they had learned with us to help him stay engaged in home life.

People experiencing dementia can remember to do many things they used to be able to do, by helping them to reconnect with those memories and abilities. It takes persistence, patience and belief. If your clients do return home, they can continue visiting St Louis on Sea by joining in the Day Respite Program and our social programs.

“I’m able to have him home now because of the support and encouragement that he received there. They showed him respect and this was so important and made him feel human and worthwhile. This made a great difference.”
- Family member.

Call us to find out how we can help your loved one with dementia

If you need day or overnight respite care, a short trial stay or want to move in permanently, please call us on 08 8552 1481 to arrange an onsite visit of our shared home. St Louis on Sea is an eight-bedroom home, each room with an ensuite. The home has state of the art facilities but feels like any traditional Australian home with warmth and love. It’s located across the road from the beach at Victor Harbor.

Call us on 08 8552 1481 to talk about the care needs for you or your loved one. Our office in Victor Harbor is located centrally at 31 Victoria Street, Victor Harbor. We’re a friendly team and you’re welcome to drop in for a cup of tea and a chat, and meet some other locals too!

Want to learn more?