Good Food Matters worker Claire Bird with participant Gail Clift
Good Food Matters worker Claire Bird with participant Gail Clift

A new community nutritional care service that provides a qualified personal care attendant or community cook to prepare meals in older people’s homes is among the services and individuals nominated in this year’s HESTA Aged Care Awards.

The Brotherhood of St Laurence’s Social Inclusion Team is one of five finalists in the award’s Team Innovation category recognised for developing its Good Food Matters food service.

Senior manager social inclusion Michael Hillier said the program offers a meal preparation service that monitors people’s nutritional intake, tailors meals to suit clients with diabetes or other medical issues and helps create a social environment that encourages healthy eating.

Between 30 and 40 people are currently receiving the service in Melbourne’s southern region, and the Brotherhood says there are plans to develop an online community menu planning Good Food Matters recipe book or an online app, as well as a hardback recipe book for clients without internet access.

“We employ personal care attendants with cooking experience who are passionate about food. Community cooks and chefs who have worked in busy commercial kitchens are capable of preparing meals quickly and efficiently in a client’s home and can also help with grocery shopping and other support,” Mr Hillier said.

After conducting a personalised assessment in a client’s home, weekly or fortnightly visits are scheduled, where team members cook meals that have been planned in consultation with the client.

“The same team member attends each session, in order to build rapport with the client and to facilitate regular and consistent feedback on the person’s overall health, wellbeing and ability to remain living independently,” Mr Hillier said.

“Clients who have had strokes benefit from engaging in regular conversation, while clients with mental health issues benefit from regular social contact with the same team member, who can provide useful alerts to case managers or family if concerns arise.”

Staying ‘on country’

Another nominee in this year’s awards is Umoona Aged Care Aboriginal Corporation, which has been recognised for enabling Elders to stay ‘on country’ and remain part of the local community. The organisation, which operates in the remote South Australian town of Coober Pedy, is one of five finalists in the Organisation Award category.

Executive officer Sonia Mazzone said the organisation was founded in 1998 so Elders could live in an aged care facility where their daily health needs could be met — while enabling them to remain active custodians of their cultural heritage.

“Our residents are involved in cultural activities such as art and craft workshops, singing and dancing, they attend Sorry camps and funerals, and collect bush medicine and materials for crafting artefacts,” Ms Mazzone said.

“We think nothing of travelling 600 kilometres to attend the Tjilpi Pumpa Festival or being the focus of a family history project documenting residents’ stories that involved a combined total of 4,000 kilometres of travel to preserve this knowledge.”

Ms Mazzone said the high level of community engagement was helping to close the disparity in the morbidity rate between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.

“Our residents are now living into their high-seventies, eighties and even nineties, despite dealing with chronic diseases and frailty, and they are engaging in life to their fullest capacity,” she said. “Another benefit has been that many older community members now come home to country to be cared for in their final years in a secure, respectful environment that acknowledges their cultural responsibilities.”

Going to extraordinary lengths

Elsewhere, Deirdre Paillas, a volunteer at UnitingCare Ageing’s Caroona site, is one of five finalists in the Individual Distinction Award category, recognised for her work establishing a choir for older people in residential care.

The Inspired Voices Choir performs at the Caroona aged care facility and at other events in the local area. Established  in 2009, it provides an opportunity for Caroona residents to socialise and enjoy the experience of being part of a performance choir.

“When we sing together and are fully involved in a song the rest of the world becomes unimportant for a short while. The music can transport us to another place and transcend our limitations,” Ms Paillas said.

A recent survey of choir participants found many looked forward to choir practice and were rearranging doctor’s appointments and other weekly commitments to avoid missing a session.

At times, Ms Paillas has gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure residents continue to be involved in the choir, including making practice CDs to help them rehearse their songs when they are unwell or unable to attend.

Outstanding individuals and organisations

In total some 15 finalists have been recognised in the 2014 HESTA Aged Care Awards (see full list below), which will be announced on Tuesday 5 August.

HESTA CEO Anne-Marie Corboy said the judges had selected a shortlist of outstanding individuals and organisations demonstrating flexible, responsive and innovative thinking and approaches to the delivery of aged care services.

“This year’s finalists reflect the changing needs of older Australians and the diverse communities they live in,” Ms Corboy said.

“Among our finalists are those providing direct care in aged care facilities, delivering services to Aboriginal Elders in rural and remote areas and providing telehealth care services that allow older people to live independently in their own homes. Their stories are truly inspiring and we’re proud to give them the acknowledgment they deserve.”

A $30,000 prize pool will be shared among the winners, provided by HESTA awards supporter ME Bank. The Outstanding Organisation and Team Innovation Award winners will each receive a $10,000 development grant. The Individual Distinction Award winner will receive a $5,000 ME Bank EveryDay Transaction Account and $5,000 towards further education.

The 2014 finalists are:

Outstanding Organisation Award

  • Community Home Care, Western Australia, for its long-term support in providing services to frail older people enabling them to remain living independently in their own homes.
  • Feros Care, Queensland, for its innovative role in the delivery of smart and virtual technologies in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and Tasmania, including group and individual video calls, online referral services, senior-friendly personal computers/tablets and smart home safety installations.
  • Southern Cross Care, Victoria, for improving end-of-life care of patients by respecting their choices and focusing on the human side of palliative care.
  • Umoona Aged Care Aboriginal Corporation, South Australia,for enabling Aboriginal Elders to live in an aged care facility where their daily health needs can be met while continuing to participate in important cultural activities such as art and craft workshops, festivals, ‘sorry’ camps and funerals.
  • integratedliving Australia, NSW, for pioneering telehealth services in Indigenous communities in rural and remote parts of NSW and Queensland.

Team Innovation Award

  • Cooking for you and me program (Adssi HomeLiving Australia, NSW), for their work in using cooking, nutrition and the sharing of food to help reduce the social isolation of older people.
  • Good Food Matters program (The Brotherhood of St Laurence, Victoria), for developing a food service tailored to the individual health needs of clients that goes beyond traditional meal delivery services — by providing a qualified personal care attendant or community cook to prepare meals in clients’ homes.
  • Re3 Wellness program (Ageing Wisely, Western Australia), for developing an innovative wellness program that improves the physical, cognitive and emotional wellbeing of older people.
  • Telehealth team (RDNS, Victoria), for delivering remote care to clients, enabling them to manage their medication while continuing to live independently in their own home.
  • The Graduate Aged Care Worker program (Southern Cross Care, SA and NT), for developing a new graduate training initiative for culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) personal carers that provides practical work experience and helps them understand the Australian workplace.

Individual Distinction Award

  • Graham Custance (Care Connect, Victoria), for developing a model of engagement and service provision that increased the number of Home Care Packages provided to Aboriginal Elders and built capacity in Aboriginal communities to access services that meet their specific needs.
  • Deirdre Paillas (UnitingCare Ageing, NSW), for her ongoing commitment to the Inspired Voices Choir that performs in-house at the Caroona aged care facility in Lismore and at other locations and events in the local area.
  • Catherine Ramsdale (Yarriambiack Lodge, Rural Northwest Health, Victoria), for her role in organising community fundraising activities to improve the amenities of the facility and for introducing new activities to keep residents active and stimulated.
  • Trudy Sutton (ACH Group, South Australia), for providing long-term care housing for frail older couples, establishing the Healthy Ageing program at eight short-term care sites and initiating Australia’s first aged care teaching facility.
  • Sally-Anne Wallace (St Ann’s Homes, Tasmania), for her enduring commitment to volunteering at the Davey Street facility — on an almost daily basis over the last eight years — assisting high-care residents with meals and developing connections with residents and their families.

Follow AAA online and on twitter for further updates on the 2014 HESTA Aged Care Awards.

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