Care that can ‘help aged care residents thrive’

Melbourne researcher leads an international project spanning Australia, Norway and Sweden investigating cost-effective ways to help residents live fulfilling lives.

Melbourne researcher leads an international project spanning Australia, Norway and Sweden investigating cost-effective ways to help residents live fulfilling lives.

The study builds on previous research showing the benefits of care that helps seniors to thrive and aims to provide a model for implementing the approach within facilities.

David Edvardsson

The international research group, the U-Age Consortium, is being led by La Trobe University professor of Nursing Dr David Edvardsson.

“Thriving interventions” aim to help residents participate in society, enjoy a decent quality of life, and experience healthy, pleasurable activities and meaningful social participation, said Dr Edvardsson.

“Our research shows that older people in aged care can benefit from health-promoting activities and interventions that build on and promote what they actually like doing, such as listening to music, participating in excursions or having nice dinners,” Dr Edvardsson told Australian Ageing Agenda.

Findings so far have showed that resident thriving was associated with engagement in everyday activities in the facility, spending time outdoors, dressing nicely and spending time with people they liked.

On the flipside, predictors of poorer resident thriving included a lower capacity for activities of daily living, cognitive impairment and behaviours of concern.

“Unmet psychosocial needs are often expressed in terms of challenging behaviours such as agitation or aggression, wandering, pacing, verbally disruptive behaviours, or more subtly as loneliness, hopelessness and lack of sense of purpose,” Dr Edvardsson said.

Trialing an education program

The project involves an intervention group to promote thriving at an aged care facility in each of the participating countries. Staff at those facilities will participate in a 12-month educational program, while three other facilities will host a control group.

At the Australian trial site, Hesse Rural Health in Winchelsea, Victoria, Dr Edvardsson is evaluating the effects of interventions through:

  • doing a little extra for residents in everyday care
  • developing a caring physical and psychosocial environment
  • assessing and meeting residents’ highly prioritised psychosocial needs.

Dr Edvardsson said the extras built on resident interests and were things not provided as part of everyday practice.

“They could range from BBQ nights and celebratory dinners to small extras such as grooming, listening to favourite music or having a beer or a glass of wine if these are pleasures for this person.”

Dr Edvardsson said the key was adopting a health-promoting philosophy of care rather than any particular skill or personal characteristic of aged care workers.

The right care philosophy supports and values health and positive ageing and supports staff in thinking creatively and being person-centred, he said.

Comment below to have your say on this story

Send us your news and tip-offs to 

Subscribe to Australian Ageing Agenda magazine and sign up to the AAA newsletter

Tags: aged-care, David Edvardsson, Hesse Rural Health, la-trobe-university, research, slider,

6 thoughts on “Care that can ‘help aged care residents thrive’

  1. Hard to believe that we need research for this. When did residents of aged care facilities stop being normal human beings with normal human needs? We should be ashamed that this is not the norm.

  2. How about aged care facilities through ACFI audit their lifestyle co-ordinator programs? These activities should be the norm.
    It could to assess the formal training received or training needs of the Co-ordinators and their assistances.
    Some professional development through TAFE would be beneficial. The Cert IV course is now called Leisure and Health to encompass overall wellbeing of the client. How many people would meet the criteria?

  3. Ditto Sue! And for those receiving care in the home. Goes without saying doesn’t it! For any decent Aged Care Worker would surely be aware of this. The pride and smile on a person’s face when going out with friends or a loved one, the handbag, the dressing up – and this hour or two hours lasts weeks as they relive it over and over in their mind and telling different residents and friends and staff. Far out!

  4. Another ‘new intervention model ‘ which in reality is a fundamental standard practice that has been and continues to be pivotal in a Lifestyle residential program for years. I also agree with the comment that a vast majority of facilities already practice this.

    In reply to #WindsorGardens a number of organizations for some years have schedules in place which regularly ‘audit’ the Psychosocial Needs of residents to ensure compliance is met and many organizations already have further systems in place to strive for a higher standard other than just compliance.

    In my opinion it is not further training for staff that will improve the:

    doing a little extra for residents in everyday care
    developing a caring physical and psychosocial environment
    assessing and meeting residents’ highly prioritised psychosocial needs

    Addressing the issue of staff/resident ratios would ensure that this practice easily becomes ‘everyday practice’ in the majority of residential facilities.

  5. Let’s hope this innovative revelation receives a tonne of research money…because disconnected academics should always take preference over care workers

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *