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Igniting the Spark of Life in people with dementia

South Island







Adriel Rest Home & Adriel House – Spark of Life Centres of Excellence

Adriel House & Adriel Rest Home are two small homes adjacent to each other providing care for people with dementia. The homes are situated in a rural farming community and many come to live at Adriel after a life living in the country. These homes reflect this life with twenty-one people living in each home and enjoying long and meaningful lives.

Short report regarding the outcomes to date of implementing the  Spark of Life Model of Care at Adriel House and Adriel Rest Home >>

In 2012, Adriel’s owner Mischeal McCormick, who is also a farmer, attended the Spark of Life Master Leadership Program in Perth, Western Australia, where she created her vision for Adriel Rest Home and later Adriel House – a vision to be the RESIDENTS’ home where they can live life to the fullest and where they are surrounded by love and compassion in their everyday.

‘The Spark of Life Philosophy is our care philosophy. It underpins everything we do and the way we go about it, right to the very details on HOW we connect and HOW we communicate with our beautiful residents.

The philosophy guides us in facilitating a loving and inclusive environment where each resident is seen in their full entirety and humanity. It keeps us focused on how to ignite their spirit and boost their self-esteem enabling the residents to be the best that they can be. These factors all contribute to facilitate rehabilitation and rementia.

Not many residents stay in their rooms. They are out and about walking in and out of the gardens and through the gate to the other home. They may be checking up on the chickens to see if there are any fresh eggs or they may be feeding the guinea pigs.

They may find their way to the outdoor enclosures to pat the horse, the mini donkeys or the lamb when the animals come to stay for the day.

They may be cutting fresh flowers from the colourful garden beds, potting plants in the Potting Shed or picking fruit from the fruit trees when they are in season. Or they may be sitting in one of the indoor or outdoor lounges enjoying a quiet time or a conversation with someone else’ says Mischeal.

This outstanding level of care has already been noted by the New Zealand Ministry of Health Auditors. Adriel House and Rest Home have obtained two Continuous Improvements for implementing the Spark of Life Philosophy and being able to evidence a reduction in depression.

Working at Adriel Spark of Life Centres of Excellence

‘When Adriel is not where you live but where you work you are part of a team raising the bar in dementia care. In your role you are encouraged to be a friend and a supportive partner to the beautiful people who live here and for the love and compassion you share you are appreciated,’ says Mischeal.

‘Since coming to Adriel, this is the first time in my life I am being appreciated for the love that I give to my residents,’ says Supportive Partner Wendy McDonald.

An experiential appreciation session being facilitated by Jane Verity:

Spark of Life Centres of Excellence

On Wednesday 6th November 2019, Adriel House & Adriel Rest Home were officially certified by Dementia Care International as Spark of Life Centres of Excellence at a landmark celebration attended by all residents, staff, families and friends.

To present the two plaques, Jane Verity, Founder of Dementia Care International and the Spark of Life Philosophy flew in from Australia. In her presentation speech she honored the homes and the unique elements that set Adriel apart and she appreciated the hard work and dedication that has gone into achieving this international certification.

The Unique Elements

Observations by Jane Verity at the Centre of Excellence Certification Visit:

‘From my visit to Adriel, having the opportunity to spend time with your beautiful residents, their families and your staff, a few experiences stand out that I would like to reflect on as they are remarkable and represent the opposite of what is usually encountered in dementia care.

  • I overheard this comment from an outside visitor; ‘I wonder if everyone at Adriel actually does have dementia!’ This statement is a tremendous, positive reflection of the love and compassion that everyone living at Adriel is surrounded by, and the meaningful life that each person lives. This statement illustrates rehabilitation and rementia in action.
  • In talking with some of your residents I became aware that several have lived many years at Adriel and are still going strong. Again this is a testimony to the love and real opportunities there are for each person living at Adriel to have important ‘jobs’ and roles that gives them reasonto get up in the morning. This boosts their self-esteem and identity and they live longer and happier lives.
  • One resident shared that the day before, a little girl came to visit with her mother. The resident invited the little girl to see her room and her soft toys. The little girl was drawn to one teddy in particular. The resident then gave this teddy to the little girl.

This story highlights that the resident’s self-esteem is high; she is feeling good and replenished within herself in order to have the surplus and generosity of giving away her teddy to the little girl.

Usually what we experience in aged and dementia care is that residents tend to become institutionalised – in this environment people tend to grab, collect, and hoard things rather than wanting to give them away.

  • Talking with other residents and hearing what was on their mind, I was inspired by the many spontaneous and creative problem solving ideas and strategies that they shared to challenges as they perceived them.

We usually say that people with dementia lose their ability to problem solve but not at Adriel. Here every creative statement and invention, whether possible to implement or not is acknowledged and the resident is feeling encouraged to keep creating new solutions to the issues they find.’

Mischeal McCormick, Spark of Life Master Practitioner

Mischeal is a Registered Nurse, Spark of Life Master Practitioner and owner/operator of these two small Rest homes (residential care homes) in the South Island, where she and her team are creating the true meaning of home and community.

Mischeal lives on a farm in the country and is bringing the richness of life on the farm into the everyday experience of her residents.

Click here to read Mischeal McCormick’s article about the Spark of Life Philosophy and Model of Care Creating an Exceptional Culture and Care Delivery >>

See Mischeal explain how the Spark of Life Model of Care works in practice with an inspiring case study:

See the Spark of Life Model of Care in Action at Adriel House and Rest home:
This footage is featured at the end of the award-winning Australian feature film Ruby’s Choice starring Jane Seymour.


On August 4th 2023 Adriel House and Adriel Resthome, both Spark of LifeCentres of Excellence were featured in the North Canterbury News paper in New Zealand.

Residents were invited each day last week to pick flowers form the gardens around the homes and arrange them in a decorated recycled tin. Attached to each was a beautiful heart shape in bright coloured card with a hint on how to look after our brain, communicate with a person with memory loss, etc. and Dementia Care International’s website. Residents were then invited to present these to a total of 40 local businesses in Amberley to display on their counter and refer to the hint or website for more information.

This has resulted in really successful and positive interactions and community involvement. One of the recipiant business’s flagged the Rest Home Van down a few days later to ask if a thank you card from their staff could be given to the resident who deliver their posies and they had written a beautiful descriptive appreciation. The resident was our local policeman and he loved the opportunity to give the posies, and everyone had a great conversation, enjoying the community connections.

Mischeal participated in the following presentation with feedback about the outcomes of their implementation of the Spark of Life Model of Care in Practice.
Facilitating Best Practice Through the Spark of Life Model of Care, Hosted by the Global Ageing Network, September 20th, 2023:



Ranui Home – On the Journey to Become a Spark of Life Centre of Excellence.

Ranui Home is part of Enliven Presbyterian Support Otago and is a home of 48 people residents; many of whom have dementia.  There are 80 staff members and 19 volunteers providing care and support. Family members of those who live at Ranui also form an important part of the Ranui Community.

Leigh McLeod, Spark of Life Master Practitioner

Leigh is of Maori descent and a proud representative of her people and traditions. She completed her nursing degree in 1997 and up until 2015 worked within the mental health field where she pioneered new and successful ways for people to experience recovery and rehabilitation.

Leigh is now the clinical coordinator and Spark of Life Master Practitioner at Ranui Home and has commenced the journey with her team to become a Spark of Life Centre of Excellence.

Watch Leigh McLeod in her native language Maori sharing her reflections about the Spark of Life Philosophy & how it connects with her culture: