Advocate for aged-care
When Tamar Krebs was a three-year-old in New York City, her great grandfather struggled, as so many do, with the deterioration of his dementia.
She vividly recalls how loved and cared for he was until his passing. "He decided to palliate, do his end-of-life Journey at home," Ms Krebs explains, "and he had the most exceptional end of life Journey. I thought 'that's how people die, surrounded by family In their own bed'.
"I grew up to become a registered nurse and soon realised that hospitals can be the most unfriendly place for people that are old and sick the same as being in a nursing home.
"I thought, 'What do people in their situation want? It became clear they want autonomy, choice, and to be treated respectfully and with dignity."
This passion to "de-institutionalise dementia care" led the entrepreneur, who has lived locally for the last ten years, to start a journey that has seen her become the founder and CEO of Group Homes Australia, a concept which allows dementia patients become part of a family rather than a numbered patient in an institution.
There are between six and ten residents with dementia in each of her seven Group Homes, and three borne-makers' or carers. Residents are encouraged to undertake tasks they feel comfortable with, which can be anything from cooking and baking, to gardening and using the barbecue, all under the supervision of the home-makers in either a custom-built house, like this one in St Ives, or a renovated existing home like the one in Warriewood.
Residents have the freedom to arise and return to bed whenever they want and are allowed visitors, whether it's for dinner or just a friendly chat and cup of tea, around the clock.
According to Ms Krebs, who has spent close to two decades managing aged-care facilities, it's the polar opposite to a nursing home, and struck a chord with everyone she lobbied to get it off the ground.
Showing her mettle and proving how passionate she is about improving the lives of dementia sufferers, Ms Krebs held 62 meetings and carried out 38 presentations to private equity venture capitalists, ministers, and ''every peak body that was interested in listening to the story,” she reveals.
"Everybody loves the idea. It's a no-brainer, choosing between a six to eight bed group home or a 100 bed dementia instutution, but I still had to have all the research and present it.
"Thankfully we got the capital. We got a syndicate of investors together, which was fabulous, and we trialled two homes, sort of like a pilot, to see whether it would work and if there was enough demand."
Fortunately there was. "I'm delighted to see it is actually working,” she adds, "because theory is always wonderful and research is great, but when you translate that theory to practice a lot of things can get lost in translation."
The proof that it is working is right there for North Shore Living to see, when we go for a tour of the house. A home-maker is helping two residents bake biscuits, others are sat comfortably, talking in the lounge room. It's the definition of 'homely'. On top of that the mother-of-four has immediate plans to open more homes on the North Shore and Northern Beaches, and strategic plans to change the Industry for the better nationally.