Leigh Road Cottage

Owner Dennie Chiew inspects the vegetable garden at the cottage with resident Maree Wilkins.

Long-term, short-term and day respite dementia care is available at the Leigh Road Cottage, in Whangateau, following the facility’s recent accreditation as a specialist dementia unit.

The facility, believed to be the only unit of its kind in Warkworth, is set on two hectares of landscaped grounds and bush, and can cater for up to 30 residents.

New owner and registered nurse, Dennie Chiew, says the aim of care at Leigh Road Cottage is to use the outdoor space to improve quality of life. She says the benefits are evident in the residents’ interaction, concentration and activity completion.

“We have plenty of space outside for residents to walk or sit, there is a vegetable garden to tend to and chooks to feed. There are also pets on the premises, which all help to give the cottage the ambience of a normal home.”

Dennie says her concern for older people probably dates back to when her own grandmother developed dementia.

“Dementia adds another dimension to care of the elderly. People with dementia often experience changes in their emotional responses. They may have less control over their feelings and how they express themselves, so it’s very important that they live in a calm environment and have appropriate activities to reduce their level of stress.”

Dennie, who also owns the Milton Court rest home and dementia unit in Orewa, says not only is a diagnosis of dementia difficult for the person with the disease, it also poses significant challenges for those who take care of their loved one. Family members or others caring for a person with dementia are often subject to extreme stress.

She says Leigh Road Cottage offers day care and respite care for families that needs a “breathing space”.

“Knowing where to go for help and who to ask can be daunting. Anyone who is in this situation is very welcome to phone me for advice and I am only too happy to help people find the right care for their loved one.”

Leigh Cottage is managed by Gill Bradshaw and employs between 25 and 30 staff.

A growing problem

According to Alzheimers NZ, there has been an estimated 29 per cent increase in the number of people with dementia in five years – from 48,182 people in 2011 to 62,287 in 2016. It is predicted 170,212 people will have dementia by 2050. The costs associated with dementia are estimated to have increased by 75 per cent – from $955 million in 2011 to $1.6 million in 2016. In today’s dollars, this could be more than $2.7 billion by 2030. There are many causes of dementia, but the most common is Alzheimer’s disease.


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