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Faye Dean (left) Karajarrie traditional owner and community worker at Bidyadanga HACC. Photo: Supplied

Tailoring care in remote communities

Bidyadanga is a small town in the Kimberley region of WA. Approximately 1590km north of Perth and 180km south of Broome. It is the definition of a remote Aussie town.

It’s home to around 800 people with five different language groups, and it is the largest remote Aboriginal community in Western Australia. Each year, it faces devastating fires that cut the community off for days on end.

Servicing the older population of this town is a difficult endeavour, but the Bidyadanga health and community care centre (HACC) does a lot with very little.

In conjunction with Alzheimer’s WA (AWA), HACC aims to provide person-centred care that keeps the community elders in the community they know for longer, avoiding sending them hundreds of kilometres away for residential aged care.

AWA started a pilot in 2016, with HACC, aimed at upskilling the carers at the facility, capacity building and tailoring care to the specific cultural needs of the community.

Some of the innovations the crew from HACC have come up with include creating a personalised box for each resident. These are filled with special objects containing memories and stories of the person’s choosing that they can take with them if they are rushed to hospital, to help make them feel more comfortable in strange surroundings.

The box also contains an MP3 player with favourite music, a country picture book and a blanket, which they have made. This blanket is the first thing they will find at the hospital or aged care home when they arrive – instantly creating a sense of familiarity.

HACC also painstakingly drew up profile sheets of each resident, detailing likes and dislikes, personality traits, cultural identity and anything else that can help carers better understand who they are caring for.

Another integral part of better care in the Bidyadanga community has been dementia education.

Carer and Aboriginal elder Faye Dean has found that the there is often a stigma that surrounds dementia in aboriginal communities.

“There was this one old fella who used to walk around with his little dog. And everyone knew he was getting old. Then one day he wondered off into the bush and we never saw him again, and that was because of dementia,” Faye told the ABC last year.

And as such, Faye now goes out into these communities and presents educational talks to increase awareness of the disease.

Faye and fellow carer Ryan Hammond spoke at a recent dementia conference and Aged Care Insite caught up with them to hear more about HACC and the work they do.

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