HESTA funds $19m haven for dementia patients

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A pioneering ‘world-class’ community for dementia sufferers has opened in Tasmania, with the aim of putting Australia at the front of a global push to care for people afflicted by the condition.

Hobart’s Korongee Village, backed by a $19 million investment from the social impact trust of industry super fund HESTA, is based on a small-home model that provides social engagement opportunities to boost its residents’ mental wellbeing.

It features 12 houses in four cul-de-sacs, a community centre, gardens, general store, café and wellness centre.

Dementia is the second-highest cause of death in Australia, and an estimated 459,000 people live with the brain disorder – its sufferers represent over half the number of all patients in residential care homes. 

“The unique design of Korongee, and the way its residents are cared for, is centred on evidence that supports small-house living,” said Lucy O’Flaherty, CEO of HESTA’s project partner, not-for-profit aged care provider Glenview.

“An important element of this model is including familiar sights and natural spaces which can have a huge impact on overall happiness, health and wellbeing,” she added.

The third partner in the Korongee project is Social Ventures Australia, which manages HESTA’s $70 million Social Impact Investment Trust.

It aims to earn a market-based return for HESTA members and achieve a measurable social impact, investing in a range of projects focusing on core social issues including affordable and disability housing, and employment for people experiencing disadvantage. 

HESTA CEO Debby Blakey

“This world-class facility is a huge step forward for dementia care in this country and puts Australia and Tasmania at the forefront of a global push to improve the quality of life of those living with dementia,” HESTA CEO Debby Blakey said.

She hopes other large investors will be encouraged to invest in similar projects to help address the growing issue of dementia in Australia. 

It affects almost one in 10 people over the age of 65, and the number of people living with it is expected to reach 590,000 by 2028, according to Dementia Australia. The annual cost of caring for dementia patients was estimated to be $15 billion in 2018.

“If even a tiny slice of our almost $3 trillion super industry start investing for impact, it will make a huge difference to tackling big social challenges like dementia,’ Ms Blakey said. “It also helps create jobs and opportunities for our members who work in health and community services.”

HESTA has also launched a new awards program to celebrate health and community services professionals working to protect the future of our society, economy and planet. 

The HESTA Impact Awards offer $30,000 in prize money to be shared across three categories: Team Innovation, Outstanding Organisation and Individual Distinction.

The criteria is modelled on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals – adopted by more than 150 countries, including Australia – which tie together the fund’s advocacy, responsible investment and stewardship of its members’ savings to help create a more sustainable world. 

“HESTA is committed to making the world a better place for our members to live, work and retire into,” Ms Blakey said. 

The winners will be announced at an awards dinner in Sydney on Wednesday 24 February 2021, subject to COVID-19 safety restrictions. 

Nominations close on Sunday 1 November 2020 – visit HESTA’s awards website for more information.

Read more: HESTA invests in scalable model to help address housing affordability

Read more: New HESTA awards recognise healthcare’s unsung heroes

Read more: HESTA nurse and midwife award winners announced

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