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Tell us about Uniting’s new approach
INSPIRED CARE is a person-centred approach that supports people to live
the lives they want to lead. This comes through in simple, ever yday ways.
Rather than imposing a schedule on our residents, they wake and shower when
they are ready. Residents are encouraged to use the kitchen and be involved in
decisions about meals, rather than having to wait for set mealtimes. We believe
that a small act can make a difference in people’s lives; Inspired Care is how we
realise this across our ageing ser vices, as small acts bring safety and comfort,
provide normality and seek to support meaning and purpose on a daily basis.
You decided to live within a facility to get a sense of life for
residents. Where did the idea for this come from?
We were constantly asking what we could do to enhance the quality of
life of those in our care. I realised the only way to truly connect with our
community was to experience their day-to-day life for myself, and to interact
closely with them. I decided the best way to do this was to spend some days
living as resident. Managers at the aged care services thought we were crazy,
but it went ahead!
What was involved?
We experienced exactly what those in our care experience. We used each and
ever y facility, showered where residents showered, ate the same meals they ate,
and slept in the available rooms. Everyone on the team has done it now. The beds
seemed small to me – I’m not used to sleeping in a single. And I don’t eat fish, so
if fish was on the menu for dinner there was nothing for me. It also highlighted
how little there was in terms of activities for people in the evenings. One of the
most memorable moments was having the opportunity to chat to the residents
and ask them, ‘What does home mean to you?’ We had answers ranging from
being able to snack when they wanted to, wake up of their own accord, and feel
safe and secure. It was a humbling experience to understand the activities our
residents enjoyed, the processes that frustrated them, and to sit with them and
discuss their plans to build a more fulfilling community. It was a heartwarming
experience to be welcomed into the home of these incredible people.
How would you say this experience informed the new program?
It meant we understood how important the seemingly small details of life can
be – like being able to snack when you feel like it. Because changes we made so
closely reflected what we had learned from residents, each resident knew that
their opinions and their beliefs made an impact. They knew Inspired Care was
formed with them at the heart of ever y decision. The experience has helped
with making changes, and it has also helped with our credibility with residents
and managers. The key learning for me was that respectful aged care ser vices
are about understanding life, as opposed to imposing healthcare routines.
What’s your advice for managers seeking to gain insight into what
life is like for residents?
Walk a mile in their shoes – live a day of your life exactly how they do. Talk
to you residents, really listen to what they say, and act on what you hear.
This is the only way a manager will ever have an insight into what life is truly
like for residents. We ensure all new Inspired Care staff experience life as a
resident when they join us at Uniting. The insights they gain are invaluable,
and we see this come through in the ways our staff seek out opportunities
to deliver care and programs in innovative and creative ways ever y day,
honouring the inherent dignity in each person. n
‘To experience life in
aged care for myself’
LINDA JUSTIN, director of practice and quality for aged care at Uniting,
chose to live in aged care facilities in order to understand residents’
quality of life and inform the organisation’s new model of care.
australianageingagenda.com.au | 33
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