New dementia support scheme


Presbyterian Support Otago HomeShare coordinator Robert Clark. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Presbyterian Support Otago HomeShare coordinator Robert Clark. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Presbyterian Support Otago’s (PSO) on the hunt for one or more Queenstowners willing to open up their homes once a week to support people with dementia.

HomeShare’s a new service the organisation, in conjunction with Access Home Care, is launching in the resort to help people with memory loss, who may be socially isolated, connect with others in a social environment, and maintain their overall health and wellbeing.

PSO Enliven comms manager Alena Lynch says the service operates in the upper South Island, but this is a first for Otago — it’s being introduced to Wānaka and Oamaru, with HomeShare hosts also sought in Cromwell or Alexandra, and Balclutha.

Under the scheme, between four and six people living with dementia will visit the HomeShare host’s house once a week, generally between 10am and 3pm.

While there, they’ll socialise, engage in activities — like a jigsaw puzzle or a game of cards — with the hosts, who’ll be supported by volunteers, and enjoy morning and afternoon tea and a home-cooked lunch.

Lynch says the hosting duties could be suitable for a service group, with a suitable venue, or an individual willing to make the commitment.

She notes hosts will be fully vetted — they also must either have a current first-aid certificate, or be prepared to complete first-aid training.

As far as the venue goes, Lynch says it needs to be mobility-friendly and have a large enough space to welcome the guests, as well as a separate quiet space if someone needs to step away for a bit.

"The house doesn’t have to be huge, but it needs to have those facilities."

PSO director Sally O’Connor says the service has many benefits for the person with dementia, and their caregiver, who’s often a spouse.

"It can be stressful caring for a person with dementia, but with HomeShare, both ... have an opportunity to have some respite once a week."

Under the scheme, free transport can be arranged to and from the host’s home — guests pay a daily fee, for which there may be funding assistance.

"Opening their homes is a wonderful way for a HomeShare host to provide a small group of people with the opportunity to make friends and enjoy some social interaction," O’Connor says.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for someone who wants to make a positive difference to the lives of older people living with dementia."

For more information, or to apply, visit