Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Jan-Feb 2014 Contents SPONSORED FEATURE
help residents. Managing daily operations in the Better Together
house, together with continual flexibility for resident choice is
designed to build a professional career path for staff.
McMillan says this strategy is a central tenet of the company's
commitment to the wellbeing of residents and colleagues.
Staff are also encouraged to build a rapport with residents
not just as carers but as friends. An example of this involves
staff choosing a client and spending one-on-one time with them
to understand their life story, their important life milestones,
what they may have done as a profession, and the hobbies they
once enjoyed or still enjoy. One of the popular 'make it possible'
initiatives is to spend time with a resident to discover something
that they have always wanted to do but have not been able to
so far. Staff then help and support the resident to achieve their
dream or goal. Some surprising and heart-warming moments
have resulted. One resident was able to be put in touch with a
long lost brother and another ventured out for a hot air balloon
ride! Staff feel immense satisfaction when they see how delighted
the residents are.
THE KITCHEN IS CENTRAL TO SUCCESS
To create a more home like experience each wing has an open-
plan living/kitchen/dining area where staff can eat with residents
and it is accessible to all residents at any time. A beverage bay
lets residents participate in meal preparation and outside meal
time the kitchen is available to staff and residents for home-style
The U-shaped kitchen resembles a domestic situation and was
created to be the hub of the living area. The aim is to have a care
household for residents that feels, looks and is arranged much
the same as a domestic household. The internal living design and
layout is an integral component to the success of the model. Each
household is also equipped with a small laundry.
McMillan says the emphasis is on personal choice, for
example residents can get up in the morning when they are
ready. "If they want to come out in their PJs, enjoy a hot
breakfast and read the paper before showering that is fine. Or, if
they prefer to watch a football match at midnight they can and
night staff are on hand to prepare a snack
or cheer their team on with them.
"Here they live safely and we don't
put up new barriers to their everyday
lives. And we don't make a fuss about
what we have to do to enable a resident
to engage and be active to the full extent
of their capabilities." Daily activities and
discussions are around what residents
might have done at home.
McMillan is not aware of any other
facility in Australia doing this in such
a structured way. "A lot of providers
will say they want to create a more
home-style environment but we have
implemented this with backing from
research methodology." The facility
operates like small multiple pavilions
within the complex with between 15 and
17 residents living in this setting.
McMillan says the biggest challenge
has been to create a living experience that
improves the quality of life for the residents
when they move from home to residential
care with its huge lifestyle change that
often involves a great deal of adjustment.
"The industry understands this is an
under-funded and under-resourced sector
and we all have ideas about how we can
do more for residents with more funding. I
believe what we have achieved with Better
Together is a new model that can be
provided within an affordable framework.
I think we have something here that is
valuable, designed to keep people as
independent for as long as possible, where
they can do things for themselves to help
maintain their activities and independence
within a community environment.
"The concept clearly demonstrates an
innovative approach to putting people
first and tailoring services as much
as possible to individual rather than
organisation objectives." n
Australian Unity is a national healthcare, financial services
and retirement living organisation providing services to
some 620,000 Australians, including 320,000 members
nationwide. Australian Unity's history as an independent mutual
organisation dates back over 170 years.
Australian Unity Retirement Living (AURL) operates 20
retirement communities, including five aged care facilities, in
Victoria and New South Wales, with around 2,000 home units,
450 aged care beds and 200 staff providing in-home services.
It also has four retirement villages and two residential aged care
facilities under development.
AURL's primary focus is to enhance the wellbeing of older
people by providing retirement living neighbourhoods and aged
care facilities that specifically meet their physical and social
needs supported by an extensive range of home care services.
AURL has been the recipient of many industry accolades
including in 2013, the HESTA Aged Care award for team
innovation; the 2013 Property Council of Australia National Manager
of the Year and the Rising Generation Award; the Western Sydney
Award for Business Excellence and the Web Marketing Association
award for Diversified Business Standard of Excellence.
Better Together is a registered trademark of Australian Unity Limited
www.australianageingagenda.com.au | 45
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