Top providers honoured at Better Practice Awards

Thirty one aged care providers have been recognised in this year’s Better Practice Awards announced by the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency on Thursday for programs ranging from environmental sustainability, art therapy, end of life and dental


Emmy Monash Aged Care was awarded a Better Practice Award for its ‘Art Down Memory Lane’ project. Residents Dora Bienstein, Carmel Tofler and Rae Darvas pictured at the National Gallery of Victoria.

An arts partnership with the National Gallery of Victoria, a rainforest regeneration project and a ‘Lovers Lane’ for couples who live apart were just some of the creative and pioneering programs recognised by the 2013 Better Practice Awards announced today.

Selected by a panel of industry and academic experts, 38 winners representing 31 providers were identified as part of the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency’s annual awards event.

The Better Practice Awards recognise innovation, quality improvement and better practice in aged care across five categories; environmental management/living environment, health and personal care, innovation, resident lifestyle, and staff development and retention.

The accreditation agency’s chair, Dr Andrew Refshauge, said the individuals and teams behind the award-winning programs were industry leaders driving improvements in the quality of care.

Victoria’s Emmy Monash Aged Care was the winner of two Better Practice Awards for establishing structured arts-based programs including the successful ‘Art Down Memory Lane’ project, which is run in collaboration with the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV).

As part of the program residents living with moderate dementia view and discuss the latest exhibitions at the gallery – from Monet to Australian artist John Brack – as a way to engage with and feel empowered by the arts. Tour guides trained by Alzheimer’s Australia lead them in discussion of the selected paintings.

Project Leader Juanita Bekinschtein from Emmy Monash says the residents from the Memory Support Unit respond passionately to the detail, colour and emotion in the paintings and sometimes they are able to connect the image in the paintings to real-life memories.

In group discussions the residents are given the role of ‘art lover’ or ‘appreciator’ and their interpretation of the artwork is acknowledged and valued by the group – every comment made is written down. “There’s a sense of being included – of achievement,” says Ms Bekinschtein.

“It’s unbelievable what happens at the gallery,” she says. “It’s a transformation. Their physical posture changes, people that don’t verbalise usually they verbalise when they are at the gallery. Art plucks strings in a way that nothing else does. We are always amazed after every gallery visit – it’s a whole discovery about how much they have to give and their abilities,” she says.

Ms Bekinschtein says the program is having a residual effect because some residents are remembering paintings from previous visits.

The program is purposefully structured so that the residents view and discuss a printed copy of the painting first so that the gallery experience is one of familiarity and recognition. “They feel safe because they are looking at something they have seen before,” says Ms Bekinschtein. The program is also helping to address some of the stigma attached to dementia, she says.

Other winners announced by the accreditation agency include a resident-performed annual musical, a ‘Lovers Lane’ garden for couples living apart and a compilation CD of original songs and poems composed and performed by residents at Prague House in Melbourne. Residents at Vasey RSL Care’s ANZAC Hostel in Brighton also sit on a ‘war and peace panel’ where local students get to hear their wartime experiences in the facility’s award-winning resident lifestyle program.

BCS Maranoa Centre in NSW won in the category of environmental management/living environment for their ‘Nurture with Nature Program. As part of the project residents are taking part in a series of rainforest plant propagation workshops and habitation information sessions. An environmental group has also been developed to help regenerate the rainforest area and to protected dozens of rainforest species.

Bupa Bellarine and Bupa Merrimac both won awards in the resident lifestyle category for their reminiscence and Zumba falls prevention programs, and in the area of health and personal care, Sir Moses Montefiore Jewish Home took out an award for their preventative oral health program, which is run out of the facility’s in-house dental clinic.

Reg Geary Nursing Home in Victoria was also recognised for introducing a bereavement liaison nurse to help provide support for residents and families at end of life, including after the resident has died.

In the staff development and retention category, ACH Highercombe was recognised for partnering with 19 schools and an RTO to deliver a school-based traineeship program to attract students to a career in aged care.

Dr Lynn Arnold convened the expert judging panel and panel members included Professor Wendy Moyle from the Griffith Health Institute, Professor Elizabeth Beattie, Director of the Dementia Collaborative Research Centre – Carers and Consumers, Wayne Belcher, former CEO Bethanie Group Inc in WA and Mr Gerard Mansour, former LASA CEO.

Read the full list of Better Practice Award winners at



Tags: aged-care-standards-and-accreditation-agency, art, better-practice-awards, emmy-monash-aged-care,

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