A room-sized model train and miniature version of Nambour has been built at a local aged care home to help residents living with dementia.
Estia Nambour and Dementia Support Australia came up with idea for the display built by a local men’s shed as part of a pilot project after assessing the needs of six residents during recent COVID-19 lockdowns.
The model train layout has a miniature replica of Nambour shops, a golf course and even a sugar cane farm as more detail is added.
Lifestyle co-ordinator Wendy May says it is all about finding ways to engage with the residents by finding out more about their history and interests.
“We are learning about their life history and what they’ve done,” she says.
“From that information we target activities and things that we can provide and use for them to help spark memories and to help people feel comfort, secure and happy.”
The project has also led to connections with the community, including the Sunshine Coast Model Railway Men’s Shed who built the dispaly, Nambour Library and the Nambour Genealogical Society.
“These guys (Railway Men’s Shed) spent nine months full-time working on this,” Ms May says.
“This model railway layout is such a valuable thing for our home.”
Ms May says the response from residents has been overwhelmingly positive with one – Hazel Grundy –recognising the Club Hotel in the model display because she was the publican for 20 years.
“She was so proud. What the residents get from this is they feel very proud, they feel seen, acknowledged and supported,” Ms May says.
“It’s a history lesson, a walk down memory lane and an interactive display.”
Resident Allan Lanham, 90, says the train is “wonderful” and brings back memories.
“As kids, we’d get a half penny and go up and put it on the rails and the train would flatten it,” he says.
DSA head of professional services Marie Alford says the model train layout is an example of how DSA consultants work collaboratively with aged care homes and health professionals to develop tailored programs for residents living with dementia.
“This model train project is fun, but it also has an important role of providing meaningful engagement for residents and helps bring back memories,” Ms Alford says.