Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

Volunteer Di and her guitar bring joy to people with very serious symptoms of dementia

By Vaseline May27,2024

Residents of HammondCare Horsely’s newly opened Specialist Dementia Care Unit (SDCU) in Illawarra, who are all at a stressful stage of their lives, are keen for more sing-alongs with volunteer musician Di Davies and her guitar.

Di’s comforting repertoire – including Pack Up Your Troubles, A Long Way To Tipperary and You are my Sunshine – is well known to residents, who all moved there after being unable to receive care in mainstream aged care.

“It’s great to be able to delve into the lives of these residents, who have had a tough time, and bring them some happiness,” Di said.

“I know that in the case of one person who was said to hate music, he came out of his room to come and listen.”

“There wasn’t much singing, understandably, but they all enjoyed it.”

The eight residents of the SDCU, known as Hart Cottage, are being assessed for suitability by Dementia Support Australia and referred by the Local Health District and other agencies, after experiencing severe behavioral or psychological symptoms of dementia, including aggression, severe agitation, vocalizations, severe depression or anxiety, or even suicidal.

Opened in August, Hart Cottage is one of 19 units in Australia funded by the Commonwealth under the Specialist Dementia Care Program. This month’s federal budget included $30.4 million for the program.

Earlier this year, Di started providing sing-alongs in the Hart house and performances for other residents with dementia in the other houses of HammondCare Horsley. Di is semi-retired and performs around the Illawarra as part of a duo called Kwozzi.

Head of Volunteer Services Belinda Holst said HammondCare is looking to recruit a further 40 volunteers in the Illawarra – 20 for the Horsley care village, including the Hart cottage, and 20 for the HammondCare At Home services.

There are options such as driving buses, gardening, playing games, company or simply taking a resident to the nearby Plant Room Café for a cup of coffee and a chat.

Di, 58, from Albion Park, started volunteering at HammondCare Horsley earlier this year after her mother Lorraine became a resident of the HammondCare Horsley Whitely cottage after being diagnosed with dementia several years ago.

“If it’s something you can do, please think about it – you can change someone’s life,” Di said.

HammondCare General Manager Residential Care and Dementia Center Angela Raguz said Hart SDCU has gotten into a good rhythm after the admission of the first resident in October last year.

A person who needs that high level of support lives in all eight rooms.

She said the team of staff trained in supporting people with dementia, including trained caregivers, paramedics, nurses, GPs and a geriatrician, work together with the aim of reducing and stabilizing severe symptoms.

“The team’s aim is to care for each individual, reduce their symptoms where possible and ultimately support them to live in a less intensive care environment, including one of the cottages in Horsley,” Ms Raguz said.

“It is satisfying for the team to see that the residents are involved and less stressed.”

In addition to the Hart cottage in Horsley, HammondCare operates other SDCPs in Cardiff, Hammondville and Erina in NSW and Caulfield, Victoria and Daw Park, South Australia.

For more information about volunteering with HammondCare, visit

Related Post