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Rural Northwest Health was recognised for its excellent achievements in dementia care by winning a prestigious innovation award at the 2012 Victorian Public Healthcare Awards.
Department of Health Secretary Dr Pradeep Philip presented RNH staff with the Victorian Gold Winner award for Excellence in Person-Centred Care and congratulated them on their innovative work in dementia care.
The award recognises the health service’s achievements in the Wattle Crescent wing which is a unit of theYarriambiack Lodge at the Warracknabeal campus.
Rural North West Health CEO Catherine Morley, Clinical Services manager Wendy Walters and board chairman Leo Casey attended the awards ceremony at the Melbourne’s Grand Hyatt Hotel with cognitive rehabilitative therapist Katie Ramsdale.
Ms Morley said the award was great reward for effort.
“The fact that we were even a finalist against every public health service in the state was fantastic but to win is absolutely amazing,” Ms Morley said.
“A lot of hard work has gone into our dementia care program in Wattle and the reward for our staff there is to see the clients’ achievements and improvements on a daily basis,” she said.
“But an award as momentous as this one is fitting recognition of what that team has achieved.
“It’s very exciting and I’m very proud.”
Wattle Crescent is a 15-bed secure dementia/memory support unit where in 2010, RNH introduced an innovative person-centred care approach for residents living with dementia. This care is based on Montessori principles reorienting care away from disability and toward capability, both physically and emotionally, and supporting an intervention model based on rehabilitation principles.

It included staff training supporting cultural change and skill acquisition, reorienting physical environments to focus on client ability and evaluation to support quality improvement and promote sustainability. Significant positive outcomes have led to this way of working being applied to other areas across RNH.
Rural Northwest Health board chairman Leo Casey said Catherine Morley and Wendy Walters had been pivotal behind the introduction of the Montessori activities which allowed dementia residents to retain a number of skills to support remaining independent in activities of daily living.
Rural Northwest Health won the state award ahead of fellow finalists the metropolitan-based Eastern Health Service and Kyabram and District Health Service

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