Providers, academics and allied health providers gathered yesterday at the Active Ageing Conference
Providers, academics and allied health providers gathered yesterday at the Active Ageing Conference

Aged care providers need to “make noise” about the “perverse incentives” within the Aged Care Funding Instrument that prevent more residents from availing of a reablement approach in residential care, a leading expert has said.

Speaking at the Active Ageing Conference 2016 in Sydney yesterday, Associate Professor Lee-Fay Low told providers that their concerns about how the ACFI could fund a reablement model were valid.

“We’ve been writing about this and advocating for this,” said Dr Low, who is a leading researcher in the area of wellness and reablement in aged care.

She called on providers to highlight the perverse incentives in the ACFI that promote a level of disability in residents. “That would be great because the ACFI will be reviewed, so make noise everyone,” she said.

Sector consultant and advisor Di Adamson, who chaired the event, agreed that providers needed to advocate on the issue. “We can’t say that wellness and reablement is the model we want, and not have the funding model that matches it,” she said.

The topic arose during a question and answer session following the presentations of three aged care providers – Catholic Community Services NSW/ACT, Alzheimer’s Queensland and Southern Cross Care SA/NT – that had each pioneered organisation-wide reablement approaches.

Jo Boylan, director of operations at Southern Cross Care, said that her organisation now had 11 gyms co-located at its aged care facilities and had seen a 54 per cent reduction in fractures.

She said that while the ACFI funded a dependency model, once new residents were assessed and their needs established, the funding claim was submitted and her organisation went “hell for leather into a recovery model.”

“We have an early intervention pathway,” she said, which justified the ACFI claim. Even when an auditor came and saw a resident who appeared to be looking quite well, the provider had a recovery pathway that demonstrated the person’s previous level of need and the progress that had been made.”

Providers, consumers collaborate on programs

Elsewhere the conference, which was hosted by Australian Ageing Agenda and Community Care Review, heard from CommunityWest’s Kelly Gray who shared early outcomes from the Step Forward Together trial of co-production in wellness in aged care.

She said consumer feedback sessions demonstrated that older people did not the like term wellness, as they found it too much like jargon, instead preferring wellbeing.

The 10 providers who participated in the pilots reported the benefits of using a co-production approach included improvements in quality of care and customer satisfaction, increase word of mouth marketing and customer and brand loyalty, competitive advantage and innovation.

Elsewhere, the conference heard from allied health professionals, who said they were keen to engage with aged care providers and support the moves towards wellness, reablement and restorative care.

Karen Stewart-Smith, an exercise physiologist, said it was great to hear so many allied health professionals and aged care providers were “on the same page” about the adoption of wellness and reablement in aged care.

Physiotherapist Rik Dawson told the conference that allied health professionals had been eagerly awaiting the era of wellness and reablement in aged care.

Home-based therapies brought better outcomes for the client and were cheaper to run for government, he said.

Apart from providing specialised services, allied health professionals also played an essential role in the upskilling of frontline aged care workers in reablement approaches, Dawson said.

The Active Ageing Conference 2016 was hosted by Australian Ageing Agenda and Community Care Review, and organised by Interpoint Events. 

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