Despite a lack of regulation, the small but growing residential aged care sector in Thailand is providing quality care for its rapidly expanding ageing population.
That’s the feedback from a group of South Australians who have just returned from the Active Ageing: Learning from our Friends conference in Bangkok.
The September conference, which focused on practical learning and information sharing in a not-for-profit context, was co-hosted by Resthaven and Baan Sudthavas Foundation (BSV), a Thai provider caring for destitute elderly women.
The two organisations have been collaborating for the past five years.
Resthaven’s senior residential services manager Kelly Geister presented on the value of nursing leadership and clinical governance to delegates ranging from nursing students to the heads of major hospitals and a university.
Ms Geister said she described the Australian aged care experience around regulations and accreditation.
“Currently no regulation is in place for Thai nursing home providers, however the homes we visited were of a high standard relative to the cultural and general living standards of the Thai people,” Ms Geister told Australian Ageing Agenda.
“Extensive regulation – red tape – is not necessarily the answer to providing quality services.”
Ms Geister said she shared experience on clinical governance with a nurse-led model of care and a consumer-directed model rather than a medical model in Australian aged care.
“The Thai curriculum has an acute focus with aged care not receiving prominence. Faculty members are very keen for this to change and to explore options to enhance undergraduate knowledge of ageing,” she said.
Building a volunteer model
Volunteering was a key theme at the conference, which is not a common concept in Thai aged care.
Resthaven is helping BSV develop and trial a volunteer model and research framework, which aims to assist BSV to engage volunteers and support their contributions and also inform the wider Thai community about the value volunteers bring to aged care services.
Resthaven’s volunteer services manager Stacey Thompson ran a workshop on volunteering at the conference.
“Volunteering is not a well–known concept in most south-east Asian countries although the notion of giving back is important in Thailand,” Ms Thompson told AAA.
“Having assisted our conference partners BSV with their aged care model over several years, they have willingly adopted the concept in their home.
“They recognise the benefits that volunteers bring to aged care. They know that it works well, and how well it supports residents, staff and family members.”
Resthaven CEO Richard Hearn said working with individuals and other countries with shared purpose was about more than a commercial business imperative.
“It’s about mutual respect between two not-for-profit organisations with different faith backgrounds,” Mr Hearn told AAA.
“The Thais have an opportunity to build their system with the benefit of seeing what countries like Australia have developed and learn from their system developments, but of course in their own context and time.”
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