22/02/2021 | Stephen Wade MLC | Better Services

An Australian-first specialised unit to care for people living with the most extreme symptoms of dementia is now welcoming patients, as part of the Marshall Liberal Government’s historic reactivation of the Repat Health Precinct.

Patients with advanced dementia will now be treated at the new, specialised Repat Neuro-Behavioural Unit (NBU) in the refurbished previous Ward 18 unit.

The recruitment and training process for the first tranche of highly specialised staff for the NBU has now been completed following the end of construction of the new unit last August.

Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said it was a historic day in the revitalisation of the site, signalling the Repat’s steady return to a thriving health precinct.

“With the NBU opening to patients, we are delivering on our promise to ensure the community has access to specialised dementia services, closer to home and when they need it,” Minister Wade said.

“In the shadow of Oakden, the Marshall Liberal Government made a clear commitment to develop the best possible care for people living with extreme symptoms of dementia.

“The facility has been designed in partnership with people with lived experience of dementia, including families of former Oakden residents as well as carers of people living with dementia.  Together we are improving services for residents with dementia and their loved ones.

“We have recruited a high-quality team of over 40 highly skilled and specialised staff –  doctors, nurses, allied health staff, carer consultant and support staff, to care for the first tranche of patients who will begin to move into the country’s first NBU on Tuesday.

“South Australia can be proud that we can now care for people with advanced stages of dementia in a facility, designed and built in collaboration with those who have lived experience of dementia. We want to make sure the unit meets the wholistic needs of those who rely on it for care.

“The ongoing improvements  to patient care services are part of our $110 million investment to revitalise the beloved Repat site and ensure it continues to play a significant role in the health care of South Australians, now and into the future.”

The NBU is located next to Ward 20, the Specialised Advanced Dementia Unit (SADU) that cares for patients with both complex dementia and acute medical conditions, and the site of the new 78-bed Dementia Care Facility – currently being built by HammondCare.

Southern Adelaide Local Health Network’s Consultant Psychiatrist and Head of Unit for the Older Persons Mental Health Service, Dr Michael Page, said the 18-bed unit is made up of three, six bed pods designed to provide dignified and compassionate care in a less restrictive setting.

“The NBU provides an appropriate environment for South Australians with the most extreme behavioural and psychological dementia symptoms and integrating their care alongside the other specialised services and facilities at the Repat,” Dr Page said.

“It has been designed as a safe, open plan space where our consumers will be able to experience everyday things they enjoyed at home, as well as quiet areas where families will be able to gather, interact and share meals.

“The state-of-the-art technology in the facility also ensures that we can meet the needs of patients in rural and remote areas by sharing the expertise of the NBU’s staff with clinicians across the State.

“I look forward to working with our team to provide this state-first level of care and support to our patients, their families and carers.”

Patients from across the State will be supported to transition into the NBU in a staged process, with up to six patients expected to be in the facility in the coming weeks.

The NBU is a key initiative in implementing part of one of the recommendations of the Oakden report.