May Bjerre Eiby sees dementia as being one of the biggest challenges we face as a society today, and in the future.
The pioneering nurse works at the forefront of innovative dementia care in Denmark. Her care home for seniors, Dagmarsminde, is challenging concepts of what is possible for people living with dementia.
She is driven to provide the best quality of life for people with dementia and believes such brain conditions can be improved through a greater focus on personalised care.
“Our main focus isn’t the dementia diagnosis itself, rather our focus is on creating a sense of community and care and valuing the individual,” May says.
While people living with dementia can often feel detached from society, May’s aim is to build their self-esteem in what she calls an “oasis of care”.
“When older people have dementia there are some years after the diagnosis where they have a sense of failure. If you lift their self-esteem they will feel again like they’re a normal human being.,” May says.
“I have an idea that you should treat these people like VIPs, like they are coming for a holiday and not coming to live in a care home. It’s the feeling you can create by making a care home feel like a vacation, just like Brookfield Green does.”
When May visited the Carinity Brookfield Green seniors’ community during her speaking tour of Australia she was impressed by the care given to residents with dementia.
She praised Brookfield Green’s specially designed memory-assisted living area, a garden space full of sensory triggers which are stimulus for residents living with dementia.
“Some other aged care places look nice but they’re too empty and stale and passive. Here there’s flowers, colours, things to look at and places to sit down. The fresh flowers, the lights and also the residents and staff are very pleasant – they have a sparkle in their eye,” May says.
“The residents are awake, they look at you and they smile and wave. That’s a sign of wellbeing, a symbol of quality of life. I see that is normal for them. The staff, in their eyes and in the way they talk, you can see that they’re not only thinking about their own needs.”