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Dementia unit push for Whangamatā and wider Coromandel

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Moana House acting general manager Garth Blake is lobbying for a dementia unit in Whangamatā and he sees it benefiting the wider district.

A dementia unit has been tabled for Whangamatā, but it’s going to cost up to $25 million to build it.

Whangamata’s Moana House and Village Charitable Trust is behind the drive to get 20 available beds for dementia patients in the town, as it sees a need for such a facility to service the town and wider Coromandel.

Acting manager Garth Blake said dementia care was not available at Moana House and the need in the community for dementia care was becoming “critical”.

“There is no dementia care facility on the eastern Coromandel Peninsula.

“Moana House is now looking to respond to the need for a dementia unit and is seeking funding support to provide a purpose-built dementia unit as part of the Moana House facility.”

Blake said fundraising in the current financial climate was a real challenge, and acknowledged the fundraising team at Moana House had a significant challenge ahead.

“Several fundraising activities such as an annual Gala Dinner and Celebrity Golf Tournament have been developed, and it is hoped that the community support for these types of fundraising activities continues.

“Once we can demonstrate significant community funding support, an application can be made to Government for more significant funding assistance.”

Indications were that one in three people in the Whangamatā community would need the support of aged residential care services at some point, he said, and there were increasing examples of dementia diagnoses among them.

“The provision of a dementia unit at Moana House would complete the continuum of care that the community needs now and will ensure a secure future for generations that follow.”

Blake could not put a timeline on the project, but estimated it would cost between $20 and $25 million.

Draft concept plans were in place.

At present the facility employs 80 staff and has 47 residents.

He said there were multiple examples, where residents had to be moved to other locations, outside of the Coromandel, for treatment, which put pressure on family members.

The unit would be incorporated into a new facility focused on aged care, he said.

“We want to build a new facility with 80 beds, 20 of those for dementia patients.”

The push for a dementia unit in the town was launched prior to Covid-19, and lost traction, he said.

Blake lifted the profile in early 2023 when he started lobbying the community.

“This facility would not only benefit the person with dementia, and their spouse; it would also benefit people caring for that family member, it would give them a break.”

He said dementia did not discriminate.

“Everyone should be coming together to see what is the best fit; make it easy on families to work through this issue.”

Moana House was established in 1984 to provide accommodation and care for the older population.

The Moana House facility was officially opened in August 1987 and commenced with 36 rest home beds.

The opening was accomplished with the support of the community, and the efforts of volunteers, including Lions Club International.

With fundraising efforts, loans, grants, and the generosity of benefactors, $750,000 was raised to match the then Department of Health subsidy to develop and fit out the building.

The two hectares of land that Moana House is situated on was gifted.

Since then, additional services had been developed to cater for the needs of the Whangamatā community.

The facility has grown to include a hospital wing and expanded rest home that accommodates independent and assisted-living services for primary care and convalescent residents.

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