Consumers ‘calling the shots’ in successful reablement program

Since 2013 Catholic Community Services has trained all its care workers and coordinators in reablement, reports Jackie Keast in this series showcasing how leading aged care providers have embedded wellness approaches.

Since 2013 Catholic Community Services has trained all its care workers and coordinators in reablement, reports Jackie Keast in this series showcasing how leading aged care providers have embedded wellness approaches.

Even before the current policy push towards wellness and reablement, Catholic Community Services NSW/ACT (CCS) was actively working towards a holistic wellness model underpinned by a belief that older people can improve their health despite frailty.

The model was based on the World Health Organisation’s definition of health as “a state of physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”, and saw wellness defined as an active process of making choices towards a healthy and fulfilling life.

“We believed that our most valuable citizens should be afforded the opportunity to embrace wellness no matter what life stage,” community services general manager Janis Redford told Australian Ageing Agenda ahead of her presentation at the upcoming Active Ageing Conference 2016.

Ms Redford said consumers had told CCS that at different points in their lives they felt they weren’t given a voice in the management of their own health and wellness, and the organisation believed it could facilitate this.

CCS is on the beginning of a journey but has a clear vision and strategy, said Ms Redford, with many initiatives currently in development. Key to this is placing consumers at the centre of design and evaluation. “This gives us the best information and feedback to inform our development strategy,” said Ms Redford.

Developing the approach

Janis Redford
Janis Redford

Among initiatives that led CCS towards its current approach was participation in the NSW Government’s Better Practice Project in 2013, a funded pilot to develop and implement a reablement program. It saw clients reduce their personal care hours as care workers took a “doing with”, rather than “doing for” approach.

Since then, the organisation has trained all its community workers and coordinators in reablement, which Ms Redford said has made significant difference in how personal care and social support is delivered.

“We are seeing that people are calling the shots on what they feel they can do and… completing those aspects as opposed to community workers completing the whole tasks,” said Ms Redford.

“We are also seeing that with task modification, and through prescriptions of aides and equipment, people continue to be further empowered to achieve more for themselves.”

In the year following, CCS developed a formal health and wellness framework, with six key focus areas: being active; healthy eating and drinking; staying connected; lifestyle; clinical care and healthy mind.

Ms Redford said the development of this framework was crucial to seeing out CCS’s vision, and forms the foundation of its program and services.

It has established a health and wellness unit with a dedicated manager to implement the framework, which it plans to expand further. There is also a dedicated steering committee to guide the process. “This has been important for keeping the health and wellness framework front of mind when there have been so many other distractions with sector reform,” said Ms Redford.

Keys to success

Among the lessons CCS has learned along the way is that success requires long-term organisational investment. “We would like to have been further advanced in the implementation of our framework, however truly embedding changes and culture change takes time. The evidence of significant benefits to our customers makes this investment very worthwhile” said Ms Redford.

CCS recognised staff and organisational culture were key to embedding wellness successfully, said Ms Redford.

In particular, it saw staff training as crucial and ongoing, and is currently developing the second wave of reablement training to build on prior learning.

The Active Ageing Conference 2016, hosted by Australian Ageing Agenda, takes place on 4 August at Swissotel, Sydney

More in this series: How to: reablement means treating client as a ‘well person, not a sick patient’

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Tags: active ageing 2016, active ageing conference 2016, catholic-community-services, reablement, wellness,

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