The introduction of a wellness philosophy in Western Australia’s Home and Community Care program increased service flexibility and provided a boost to staff morale and satisfaction.
For some consumers and carers, wellness, which was introduced into the state’s HACC program in 2006, was seen as reducing rather than enhancing service provision.
The wellness philosophy tested organisations’ understanding of the ‘concept of care’ and faced with some consumer and carer reluctance and complaints, staff felt the need for more prescriptive guidance, said the report released today. However, this contradicted the key element of flexibility, which defines a wellness approach, it said.
“Several [respondents] indicated how some organisations found the translation of the wellness philosophy so challenging they became task‐focussed and ‘narrowed it down,’” the research report produced by CommunityWest said.
“Flexibility is the key to wellness‐based practice. However, limited implementation and restrictive practice may have had a detrimental impact on the full implementation of all aspects of the wellness philosophy for some time,” said the report.
All HACC service provider respondents to the research referred to various experiences of consumer resistance to the change as it was being rolled out, and stressed the importance of community education on wellness.
Sixty per cent of service provider participants highlighted evidence that consumers remained in their homes for longer and required fewer hours of care as part of a reablement approach.
Consumers were also encouraged to improve and learn skills, for example mentoring of young people as part of an intergenerational program, CommunityWest said.
Working with wellness was also considered very motivating for staff, particularly when they saw improvements in consumer health.
The research project involved interviews with consumers, service providers and peak bodies to assess how effectively the wellness philosophy had been adopted into organisations’ policies, everyday practice and systems.
To strengthen the implementation of wellness, which is now also a feature of the national Commonwealth Home Support Program, the report recommended reviewing staff training of HACC organisations in WA, improving consumer and community education on wellness and developing sector leadership using identified mentors.
The Wellness: Now and for the Future report is available on the CommunityWest website.
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