In the Mallee region of South Australia, is a very special woman, passionately leading her community, and changing how we approach dementia care. Claudia Ait-Touati, from Coonalpyn, has spent years establishing Careship Coorong, a care farm that is providing people living with disabilities and dementia with a holistic alternative to traditional care.
Claudia is originally from the Netherlands, and migrated to Australia several years ago with her young family, where they settled in Coonalpyn. When her father was diagnosed with dementia back home, Claudia came across care farms. She was intrigued by the concept, which focuses on providing opportunities for sufferers to be outdoors, engaging all of their senses and interacting with nature, in a safe and relaxed environment.
‘We see tremendous joy and pleasure in our guests, when they are able to help on the farm. They feel they are contributing their time and skills to a worthwhile cause, and we can see the benefit that a sense of self-worth and belief gives them. I have a background in disability care, and I can see really positive results from this approach to care.’
Careship Coorong is run by a dedicated group of community volunteers, operating a snail farm in Coonalpyn. Care farm guests assist with the breeding, feeding and harvesting of thousands of snails, which are destined for the tables of some fabulous Australian restaurants. The volunteers are currently hosting about ten guests on each visit.
Claudia’s initial interest in care farming and dementia care grew into a real vision with many years of hard work, fundraising, and building a dedicated group of volunteers. ‘It’s amazing how those seeds of interest have grown over the years. It’s so pleasing to see so many volunteers giving their time for others,’ Claudia said.
‘It is an ongoing battle to secure funding, and I spent many months studying how to write grants and proposals, and learning how to form a board, and the many legalities and requirements of forming an organisation such as Careship Coorong. Despite the many hours of work and some frustrating setbacks, every time we see the community coming together to support us and our guests, we know it’s worth every minute of effort.’
Claudia is a very busy woman, like most dedicated volunteers. She operates a small business, the waffle shop at Coonalpyn (more about that success story in a future post), has a family to look after, and she is a tireless community volunteer. But most importantly, she is a great example what hard work and passion can achieve in small communities.
The Snail Farm is one of key stops on the newly launched Coorong Tours.
Coorong Tours are designed for groups and are farm gate based. Meaning, you and your mates can experience a behind the scenes look at the Snail Farm during your tour and have a chat with Claudia or one of the team.
More information about Coorong Tours can be found at: https://coorongrealty.com.au/coorong-tours/ or by calling our Tour Manager, Adam Hurle on 0439 545 193.