News & Events

Judy brings head and heart to role

August 18, 2017

Judy Sharp hopes she brings heart and head to her role as a councillor for the Old Colonists’ Association of Victoria. As well as guiding major growth and development in OCAV’s villages, Judy believes councillors must also work to nurture the culture of the villages. Her background in community aged care and carers’ services means she is well placed to bring ‘the heart’ to all conversations around development.

 

Australia’s ageing population means the ranks of the elderly are swelling and more and more people are looking for secure housing like that provided by OCAV. It’s a challenge that OCAV, along with others in the industry, is working to address.

 

“There is a growing realization that there will be a lot of ‘homeless’ older women in the coming decades. Many older women are in insecure rental housing because they raised families and were not in the workplace long enough for much superannuation. There is a range of reasons why this group is very vulnerable. We have to be part of the discussion that addresses the problem,” Judy said.

 

But providing housing is about much more than just the physical development, it is also about how people are living within their built environment. Judy believes OCAV villages have a culture of care and community and that must be preserved.

 

As well as providing housing in greater numbers and working to maintain a culture, meeting the sometimes rapidly changing health needs of ageing residents is another major challenge. People living with dementia and various stages of memory loss are a focus for planners and policy makers, particularly those at OCAV.

 

In 2014, approximately 184,000 Australians – 5.7 per cent of the over-65 population – were living in retirement villages. This rate is projected to increase to 7.5 per cent in 2025, which means that there will be more than double the number of residents currently living in retirement villages in 10 years.

Research indicates that the number of people living with dementia is set to increase. Currently an estimated 342,800 Australians are living with dementia and, without a significant medical breakthrough that figure is expected to soar to almost 900,000 by 2050. It is already the second leading cause of death in Australia.

 

OCAV is committed to making its villages dementia friendly, which involves a lot of innovation and planning, so that people with dementia are able to stay living longer in their homes.

 

“We know that people live longer and happier lives if they can stay as long as possible in their own homes. So we are looking at ways of making that happen. We are looking at how to maximize existing government services in the villages. Even how we plan paths and gardens,” Judy said.

 

“This issue is very relevant in planning of the new developments at Rushall Park and Leith Park. What can we do to make life easier for a resident with memory loss.”

 

As a member of the Council’s Care Committee Judy is also concerned about the welfare of all residents and how to maintain their wellness for as long as possible. She would like to see the residents’ levels of physical activity increased.

 

“Housing in our villages is sought after and resident surveys show a high level of satisfaction, which are two measures of success. But we have to be always looking at how we continue to nurture environments where the communities support one another and where the dignity of each person is recognised. That’s not always the case in our society where fitness, youth and beauty are favoured and admired and the views of the elderly are often overlooked,” Judy said.

 

Sanctuary is how artist Gillian Coates describes her home at Currie Park, OCAV’s village in Euroa. “When I go to Melbourne and I am heading back to Euroa, I can’t wait to get home to the peacefulness of this place. It is like a sanctuary for me."

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