Aged and community care providers that are not delivering the wellness, reablement and restorative care approaches won’t be around in three to five years, the Active Ageing Conference 2015 heard on Thursday.
Sector trainer and consultant Lorraine Poulos told the Sydney audience that those in positions of influence in their organisations needed to “take these messages back” and encourage their boards and managers to get behind the active ageing approaches.
Carrie Hayter, researcher and consultant, told the event that while wellness and reablement approaches had been progressed by pockets of the sector in recent years, the new mandate of their inclusion in the Commonwealth Home Support Program and CDC was an “adaptive leadership” challenge for aged care.
Similarly Marissa Galiazzo of Green Sea Shell Consulting said that aged care organisations that embedded wellness approaches across their organisations, at the core of their values and mission, and led by example, would be “the ones who shine.”
The Active Ageing Conference 2015, hosted by Australian Ageing Agenda and Community Care Review, brought together researchers, providers and allied health professionals to discuss the wellness approaches now expected in both home support and home care since 1 July.
Providers needed to collaborate with allied health professionals and other services in order to provide the range of wellness programs clients were increasingly seeking to maintain their independence, said Trish Nove, senior population health officer at the Centre for Population Health, Cumberland Hospital Campus.
Ms Nove initiated a reablement project, building strength and balance in seniors to reduce falls, which involved a partnership of 35 different services in Western Sydney.
“We improved the strength and balance of older people by jointly building service capacity to deliver the program, doing training and education with staff, and talking about changing policy and embedding it in their systems,” Ms Nove told the conference.
Since it began in December 2013 some 1,500 staff and clients had been trained though the program, with significant changes seen in client’s strengths, balance and confidence, she said.
Focus on wellness a challenge for RAS
Elsewhere, the conference heard that the delays and challenges that had been experienced with the government’s My Aged Care gateway had distracted from a focus on wellness and reablement in the initial rollout of the Regional Assessment Services.
Under the recent changes, the RAS, which currently conduct assessment for entry to the Commonwealth Home Support Program, are meant to embed a wellness and restorative approach in the client support plans that aged service providers receive.
“The aim of setting restorative goals is to increase a person’s capacity to look after themselves so to reduce need to rely on formal services,” said Ken Johnson, RAS program manager with Community Options Australia, one of the 13 RAS contractors.
“Four months in and our focus has been on getting that system working to a point where we can actually get referrals through, we can have assessments done and clients be provided the services they need. What that means though is our focus on wellness and reablement has been not quite as focused as it should be,” said Mr Johnson, who added that his agency was committed to the philosophy of wellness and restorative care.
There were also several practical questions yet to be answered regarding the new wellness approach within client assessment and care planning, Mr Johnson said. “In the support plan we develop goals, but what if the client doesn’t have goals, or isn’t motivated to achieve their goals, what happens then?”
He said RAS agencies were working with the Department of Social Services on such questions.
The conference also heard from Lisa Hoggard, director of industry engagement and education with the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency, who said that when it came to demonstrating an effective wellness or reablement approach, quality reviewers would be looking to the community care standards as the guide.
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For instance, the issue of social connection and engagement, which the conference heard was a key issue in an overall wellness approach, was covered by standard 3.5 on independence.
“The sorts of questions we might be looking at behind that standard is the issue of choice and control over their independence; looking at the ways your systems and processes support that consumer choice, looking at the resources you have in place, not just physical resources but also your staff, culture, making sure people have the right skills they need to support those goals of wellness, reablement and independence,” said Ms Hoggard.
The Active Ageing Conference 2015 was organised by Interpoint Events.
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