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Through using 'rementia', Tamar Krebs sees the positive impact it has made among residents.

Dementia care revolution: Tamar Krebs’ rementia approach

Tamar Krebs has been revolutionising how people view dementia through her work at Group Homes Australia (GHA) by reviving the idea of ‘rementia’.

Rementia is a Latin term meaning ‘to return to the mind’. 

Ms Krebs, the founder and executive director of GHA, uses this idea in her newly launched program, five-day Rementia Together Retreat at GHA, which aims to “help people live well with dementia by giving them and their chosen partners the skills and knowledge they need to live a fulfilling life”.

“People with dementia don’t need to be locked away or cut off from society,” Ms Krebs told Aged Care Insite.

“We need to reframe the conversation and stop thinking about what people cannot do with dementia and start thinking about what they can do and what gives them purpose, meaning, and relevance.”

“We need to stop using the language ‘suffering with’ and start saying ‘living well with.’”

GHA runs group homes with six to 10 residents and around the clock care. They function more like regular homes, with no set meal or visiting times, and with a focus on residents' abilities.

This week is Dementia Action Week, which asks the public to act now for a dementia-friendly future.

70 per cent of aged-care residents live with moderate to severe cognitive impairments, including dementia.

More than 400,000 Australians live with dementia, with that number estimated to jump to 900,000 in the next 25 years.

Ms Krebs said GHA’s Rementia Together Retreat is different from other Australian short-stay programs as it is framed as a ‘retreat’ rather than a ‘respite’.

“[The program] is designed to equip people living with dementia and their support partner with the emotional, psychological, and practical skills to live a fulfilling, empowered life post-diagnosis.”

During the retreats, leaders explore what will bring individuals closer to their own sense of self and, consequently, rementia.

The retreat is also made to have community integration at its forefront, with people living in “real homes”.

In early September, the Department of Health and Aged Care released its final draft report on the design principles and guidelines for renovating or building aged care facilities.

One of the three principles in the report was to ‘cultivate a home’.

“For people moving into care, they don’t move into a ward, but into another home to live in during this next chapter of their life,” Ms Krebs said. 

“When they walk through the door, they smell baking or cooking. The homemakers are more than caretakers; they are friends to many residents, and in time, they become family.” 

Nicole Duncan’s mother is a current resident at GHA and lives with dementia. 

However, before settling at GHA, Ms Duncan said the search to find a home was stressful.

“I looked at 48 other homes,” Ms Duncan said.

“If you knew how much research I did to find the right option for my mother… finding Tamar and GHA – it was like finding a gold nugget.”

“I can now see her and spend time with her, knowing how well she is looked after in between my visits … this is a model of care that Australia needs.”

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