A position paper published by the Australian Association of Gerontology (AAG) provides the first Australian definitions for wellness and reablement, including 10 core principles to consider when delivering reablement in aged care.

It also sets out the difference between reablement, wellness and restorative care, and rehabilitiation.

Policy and research manager Dr Sandra  South says there’s been a lack of clarity about what the terms actually mean, particularly for CHSP providers who are now required as a grant condition to report to the government on how they are embedding wellness and reablement in their services.

Dr Sandra South

The paper aims to bridge that knowledge gap and policy guidance for government and providers, she says.

Dr  South says AAG began its reablement project by mapping international and Australian research and policy publications.

“We found that there were a lot of different definitions of wellness and reablement in the literature, both in Australia and internationally,” she told Community Care Review.

“We then spoke to Australian aged care experts in wellness and reablement and learnt that they also had different interpretations of these concepts and how to apply them in practice. 

“This was leading to confusion amongst policy-makers, service providers and frontline workers (so) AAG decided to … develop these consensus definitions.”

Dr South says many CHSP providers facing their first Wellness and Reablement Report in 2018 were were confused about what the terms meant in practice. 

“AAG hopes the definitions and core principles in this paper will help clarify the differences between wellness and reablement approaches and how they can be delivered by CHSP service providers to support independence in line with the CHSP Manual,” she said.

“We also hope that this paper will support the Government to develop appropriate policies and funding models for aged care with a wellness and reablement focus embedded across all areas of service delivery.”

Wellness versus reablement

According to international definitions, “Reablement is a person-centred, holistic approach that aims to enhance an individual’s physical and/or other functioning, to increase or maintain their independence in meaningful activities of daily living at their place of residence”.

The AAG paper says while the underlying principles of wellness and reablement are basically the same, wellness can be thought of as a general approach, while reablement involves intensive periods of targeted services provided by interdisciplinary teams.

Restorative care, meanwhile, is a response to a sudden loss of function.

The AAG’s ten core principles to ensure the needs, strengths ad preferences of older people are met through wellness and reablement in aged care:

  • Underlying approaches for wellness and reablement are the same
  • Appropriate supports must be delivered
  • Wellness and reablement must be available across all sectors of aged care
  • It must consider future strengths and aspirations
  • There must be regular review and reassessment
  • It must not promote ageist and ableist stereotypes
  • Access to mental health must be included
  • Preference must be giving to conducting assessments in person
  • Assessment teams should be supported by relevant health and allied health professionals
  • Case management should be included.

The paper is a collaboration between the AAG and 22 experts including researchers, service providers and professional organisations.

You can access the position paper here.

This story first ran in Community Care Review.

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1 Comment

  1. Finally a resource that recognises mental health in wellness and reablement approaches across any aged care domain! Next step: recognise the diversity of MH professionals who can support older adults in any care domain.

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