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Sapphire Care

Model Railway Club
Sapphire Care 

Grossard Court, Cowes, Vic. 

Residential and Home Care – Regional, 80 + Beds

Award descriptors:
Enablement, Communication and engagement, Social participation

About the program
The model railway project has been a life changing experience for a number of men at the home. The project has attracted attention from the local model railway club and provided a sense of community participation with residents attending from all areas within the home including the memory support unit. The men in the group have various backgrounds and experience. 

The model railway focus group watched the men interact and the sense of pride seen following an invitation in December 2014 to present the railway model that they built, at the local railway model exhibition display. The media was alerted to this innovative practice and a journalist from the local newspaper visited the home and interviewed the residents and staff in the model railway group. 

The media attention attracted local enthusiasts who contacted the home to share their model trains, expertise and volunteer their time in sharing skills with the model railway club. 

The initial railway model was such a success that a second model railway is currently being built with a purpose built area designated for the railway model club. One resident expressed "I feel pride in being part of the building of the railway model".

What we did
The model railway focus group met weekly and reviewed evidence based practice and sourced information from the national railway model club (NRMA), past better practice award winners, Alzheimer's Australia, Australian men's shed association (AMSA) and local community railway model club. 

The Dementia Training Study Centre were invited to attend the home and conduct an environmental audit. An environmental audit was performed on 14th September 2014 and recommendations included creating a familiar space for the railway model club to support movement and engagement and provide an opportunity to spend time with others and link with the local community. 

The Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service and Alzheimer's Australia were contacted in May 2015 to discuss the project to make a difference to the lives of residents living with dementia in the memory support unit. Strategies and suggestions were relayed to the model railway focus group. 

Initially the model railway club met as a group and planning involved presentations from the member of the local model railway club. To encourage and share the establishment and innovation of the group an editorial was placed in the local community newspaper inviting the locals to participate in the project with meeting the group and donations of items to assist with building the model railway. 

A dedicated time slot was added to the lifestyle planner to commence the building of the railway model. The men met in an area within the home which was designated for the project. The aim of the project was to capture and register residents' participation, interests and expression through their shared past experiences and links with the local community. The participation of the group was monitored and documented by the focus group and lifestyle team. 

The co-design of the model railway involved feedback from members of the local community model railway club and research with the national and Australian model railway clubs.

Why we did it
The model railway project was established to assist the men at ABC Nursing Home to maintain their past history and enable them to connect with their pastimes and provide mental stimulation.

The project was established as a result of residents, staff and families participation in the home's continuous improvement program. Opportunities for improvement identified included:

  • request from male residents and their families to establish a men's group
  • request from residents to establish a group that links with the local community
  • idea that all men be invited from each unit including the memory support unit to a men's group
  • idea for the railway model club to be connected with the local railway model club
  • suggestion that the enablement of linking male residents from all three units of the home
  • request for need to engage men in the home to establish a dedicated activity to promote social activity.

The suggestions were reviewed by the quality coordinator and key staff at the home. To address the ideas, a dedicated model railway focus group was created as a follow-up to establish a men's group. Membership included the lifestyle coordinator, lifestyle team, quality coordinator, resident representative, residential manager and community member from railway model club. The group met weekly and established a program that would enable and cater for residents with varying physical, psychological and social needs.

Who worked with us
Collaborations with the development and implementation included membership with the local Railway Model Club, Alzheimer's Association, Dementia Training Study Centre (DTSC), Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service, local newspaper, local Men's Shed, Rotary and Probus.  DTSC were involved in completing an environmental audit on 18 September 2014.

What we learned
Evaluation of the initiative was captured through the annual lifestyle survey. Quantitative outcomes of the lifestyle surveys conducted in October 2014 and October 2015 identified that there was an increase in "activities that interest" the residents from 86% to 95.45% and a reduction in "an activity that the you would like to try although not currently offered" from 71% to 31.82%. Comments from the survey identified one of their favourite activities included was the Men’s Group and Model Railway Club.

The model railway group were invited to present their achievement of the railway model to the local model railway exhibition in January 2015. The invitation to the exhibition attracted local media attention and donations and visits from local model railway enthusiasts were forthcoming. The residents in the railway model group also attended the exhibition via the home's bus.

Due to the success of the project a request from a resident through the continuous improvement program in May 2016 suggested that an additional session be delegated in the lifestyle planner for the railway model club. The outcome of the OI (opportunity for improvement) form initiated an additional session for the group. Two sessions a week were included in the lifestyle planner facilitated by a railway model enthusiast from the lifestyle team.

Continuous improvement
Following the success of the railway model project a suggestion was made on 1st October 2015 via the home's continuous improvement program that a designated room be established. This request reflected recommendations from the environmental audit conducted by DTSC on 18 September 2014. The request from residents and staff was added to the home's continuous improvement activity plan and a room was to be sourced. A room was sourced and plans for refurbishment commenced to house the Men's Group Model Railway project. Refurbishment included new flooring and storage cupboards. On 18th December 2015 the refurbishment was completed and the second model railway project ideas commenced. The local community model railway club donated a table to commence the second model railway following the success from the first project.

Residents’ qualitative feedback of the project received from the model railway group on the opening of the "Men’s Shed" area on 18th December 2015 included:

  • "thank you for an opportunity to remember the good old days"
  • "the group has provided a time for men to come together"
  • "my woodwork skills and hobbies can be seen in the final model"
  • "this is a chance to use my hands and make something meaningful"
  • "it was interesting watching the building of the bridges and the tunnels"
  • "I enjoyed the presentations from the community speaker"
  • "I feel as sense of achievement"
  • "I feel happy to be acknowledged by the local community"
  • "the ladies of the home and other residents watch the progress of the model railway"

The initial completed railway model is located in the corridor and has been housed in a purpose built unit and residents, visitors, staff and children enjoy watching the model railway exhibition. 

The initiative of the model railway project can be transferred to other aged care facilities. The membership to the national railway model club (NRMC) is open to all members of the public and groups. There are a number of community railway model clubs that a home can link with. There are railway model exhibitions around the country where residents can attend for ideas. Homes are welcome to visit or Skype with ABC Nursing Home and meet the railway model club and join in the activity and speak with the residents and staff.

The model railway project has established close links with the local railway model club who visit the home and provide ongoing support to the group. The residents meet each Monday and Friday afternoon which is a dedicated time slot in the lifestyle planner. The home has established a dedicated area for the group which has provided the men from the home ownership of the project which takes many months to complete. The men from the model railway club have expressed their fulfilment of seeing the commencement of planks of wood and wires to a final fully functioning electric railway model come to fruition.

The model railway project is monitored through the lifestyle focus group which meets quarterly, annual lifestyle survey and discussions at the monthly resident meeting. Residents, staff and families also have an opportunity to give feedback through completing an opportunity for improvement form which is accessible in a number of areas.

More information on this program:
Rosemary Pace, , or phone (03) 5951 2020

Friday, 21 December 2018 - 7:00am