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A new dementia unit at Three Tree Lodge in Bowenfels is providing better care options for senior people in the Lithgow area who are living with advanced dementia, thanks to a capital grant of almost $1.25 million from the Federal Government.

The new wing, Melaleuca House, is specially designed to provide dementia care. It has eight beds for residents, taking Three Tree Lodge’s capacity from 54 to 62 beds.

Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care, Ken Wyatt, said the new wing would make a big difference to people from the Bowenfels-Lithgow area, who needed specialist dementia care.

“This new wing is an excellent example of high-quality, specialist dementia care,” Mr Wyatt said.

“Around half of all Australians living in aged care now have dementia. As their condition deteriorates, the type of care they receive can make a huge difference to their mental and physical wellbeing.”

Melaleuca House reflects the “Household Model of Care” and HammondCare design principles. HammondCare offers consultancy services for dementia care and building and environmental design through its Dementia Centre.

“It’s been shown both here in Bowenfels and in other Australian and overseas aged care centres that residents living in smaller home-like clusters have a better quality of life,” said Member for Calare Andrew Gee.

“This successful project bears testament to the hard work and dedication of the voluntary community board which runs Three Tree Lodge.

“I congratulate everyone involved in this project, which will bolster care options and help keep our communities and families connected, through better local services.”

A recent Flinders University study examined differences between residents in standard aged care facilities and clustered household models of care with 15 or fewer residents.

It found that residents living long-term in clustered home-like aged care were more content and healthy. They had a 68 per cent lower rate of being admitted to hospital and 73 per cent lower chance of admission to the emergency department.

“As well as having a small number of residents, the household model includes access to an outdoor area, and residents being involved in food preparation and serving,” Minister Wyatt said.

“The Morrison Government strongly supports aged care innovations like Three Tree Lodge.”

This month, Minister Wyatt and Health Minister Greg Hunt announced funding of $70 million to create a world-first national network of specialist care units for people with very severe symptoms of dementia.

The program will create a network of 35 specialist care units around the nation, to provide best-practice care for these vulnerable people.

In 2017-18, Three Tree Lodge received a total of $2.4 million in operational funding from the Government for its permanent residents.

As well as residential care and secure dementia care, Three Tree Lodge offers respite care, palliative care and transition care.