Minibus funded by HammondCare Foundation brings joy for people living with dementia

Toyota Hiace HammondCare Horsley fullAn outing to Kiama beach on a balmy autumn afternoon is now possible for HammondCare Horsley residents thanks to a brand-new Toyota Hiace minibus, funded by the HammondCare Foundation.

The Hiace is one of new minibuses funded by the HammondCare Foundation at a total cost of $326,000 that will add quality of life for HammondCare residents, clients and patients.

At HammondCare Horsley, the new vehicle means there are now two minibuses available to ensure residents – all of whom live with dementia – can have an outing at least once a week.

On one recent trip, residents from HammondCare Horsley’s Whiteley Cottage revelled in sights around Kiama, including ice cream by the beach and watching the iconic Kiama blowhole erupt.

Volunteer Brian Grant, a regular HammondCare Horsley minibus driver, was behind the wheel for the day joined by careworker Rhianon Poland supporting the residents seated in the back. Mr Grant said he looks forward to seeing the smiles on the faces of the residents when they head on any outing.

Toyota Hiace HammondCare Horsley residents

“Giving them opportunity to get out of their room or cottage helps them feel free – it is all about changing their day,” he said. “Hearing the laughter and seeing their excitement is just delightful.”

At Horsley, the residents themselves decide on the weekly adventure, which can include watching the hanggliders off Bulli, viewing the busy shipping bussle in Port Kembla Harbour or taking in the beautiful vistas from the Illawarra escarpment.

Sometimes residents are lucky enough to catch the sight of skydivers landing in Wollongong’s Stuart Park.

HammondCare Horsley Residential Manager Jodie O’Sullivan said residents were now making the most of their new minibus following the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.

She said the outings were fun but also had a great therapeutic benefit for people living with dementia as it helps with reminiscence. “These outings can trigger for them memories and life experiences from their past,” Ms O’Sullivan said.

In addition to the new Horsley minibus, other Hiaces purchased in the past year have gone to Independent Living Units at Hammondville and to assist home care clients in the Upper Hunter through HammondCare At Home, Scone.

A fouth minibus, a Mercedes Sprinter costing $123,000, is on order for delivery in June to Braeside Hospital. It’s been held up due to COVID-19 delivery delays.

In addition to the new minibuses, Foundation has funded payouts on leases worth $56,000 on two other Mercedes Benz minibuses, located at Hammondville so HammondCare can retain the vehicles.

HammondCare Foundation Head of Fundraising Claire McCarthy said the minibuses would enable the residents, clients and patients who use them to engage in meaningful activities that provide purpose and connect to their communities.

“I am delighted that the HammondCare Foundation has the funds available, thanks to the donations of our supporters, to provide these minibuses that will add to the quality of life of older people in our care,” Ms McCarthy said.