Care village ideal fit for manager

    Hawthorndale Care Village new project manager Helen Robinson is excited to be appointed to the project and is looking forward to the challenges ahead of her.

    LOOKING after the elderly population’s needs has always been a passion for the Hawthorndale Care Village’s new project manager.

    United Kingdom national Helen Robinson moved to New Zealand two years ago with her family after her husband was offered a position to work in Invercargill.

    A couple of months after their arrival, Mrs Robinson was appointed general manager of the Southland Charity Hospital thanks to her experience working in the healthcare system and rest homes.

    However, when an opportunity came up to work at the new Hawthorndale Care Village, Mrs Robinson did not think twice.

    “Since I heard about the project and discovered what they were trying to do, I always kind of had my sights on it. It was the same kind of thing that I used to work in at home and something which I feel very passionate about.”

    She was appointed to her new role at the start of the year and she was pleased to be part of a project which she believed was unique for the country.

    The Hawthorndale Care Village project is an aged care facility inspired by the world leading Dutch dementia village, De Hogeweyk.

    Mrs Robinson said the design of the village and the delivery of care there would aim to remove the institutional, hospital feel and replace it with residents living in small groups in houses where the rhythm of everyday living was tailored to each individual.

    “Usually rest-homes tend to be a big, old care centre, with long corridors and staff in uniforms with a tray giving tablets to the residents.

    “We want to change this and do something more personalised, catering for the individual’s need.”

    Mrs Robinson relied on her own experience to support the idea.

    When she was in the UK, she managed aged care services in the Shetland region, in the Northern Scottish Isles, for more than a decade, and the system was a bit different as the elderly resident received a budget for the care they needed.

    “It is more personalised, catering for what the people really need.”

    For example a 65-year-old woman who was diagnosed with a neurological condition, was struggling with her mental health.

    “She did not want to do anything, she was missing her own life… So we put a plan to support her in a way she felt she needed.

    “So with her budget, besides the necessary treatment for her condition, we found an art organisation where she started to have lessons. From that, she went to arts college once a week and she now hosts international exhibitions.”

    It was a social rather than a traditional institutional model of care where the person was at the centre, and everything was built around them, she said.

    Mrs Robinson also believed the Hawthorndale Care Village would have a family-friendly vibe with a theatre, coffee shops, a mini-market and spa, bringing a more welcoming feeling for its residents.

    “We want to take the stigma out of many rest-homes – almost like a hospital. It’s a place where people want to go and feel good to have their family around.

    “We want people to come in and feel that they are really at home.”

    Mrs Robinson said the project was progressing well, with about $1.8 million still needing to be raised for the $35 million project.