Early emotional support for people living with early-stage dementia and their whanau is critical – according to a recent review of evidence-based support services.

The report, which was undertaken by Canterbury Psychiatrist Dr Matthew Croucher and others, highlights the need for more education and activities for people living with dementia and their whanau – to positively influence their quality of life.

The review, commissioned by Dementia New Zealand, will inform the future funding and delivery of services for the more than 70,000 people living with dementia in New Zealand of which the majority live at home.

“What happens next is a great opportunity to lift dementia care services from the bottom of the cliff to the top” says Dr Jan Weststrate Co-founder, with his wife Marian, of the Kapiti not-for-profit, Home4All.

“New Zealand is miles behind other countries, like the Netherlands, Australia and the US in the investment and the services it provides for people living with dementia. A recent study in the Netherlands shows just two planned support meetings shortly after someone is newly diagnosed, make a significant difference to the way people living with dementia and their whanau cope.”

In 2021 Dementia Wellington estimated that between 875 – 1400 people in Kāpiti currently live with the condition: about 700 are cared for at home. Numbers are likely to rise considerably because Kāpiti has one of the fastest growing aging populations in the country.

Dr Weststrate says support for newly diagnosed people and their whanau to talk more easily about their condition can make a real difference in reducing stigma around the condition. “Currently, permanent care is often the only available option. People need to be able to talk about the condition and get more help and support much earlier,” he says.

Jan and Marian Weststrate run Home4All, a Raumati Road day activity centre for people in the early stages of dementia. They promise ‘a happy day’ at their Green Care Farm – helping in the garden, art room and workshop, preparing lunch, meeting like-minded people and playing with Bella the dog.

Related links

• Download the NZ Dementia Foundation report here.
• Listen to the Radio NZ interview here.


Contact Jan Weststrate on 021 897 605 or email jan@home4all.co.nz.