Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Nov-Dec 2017 Contents THE QUESTION
We asked four industry figures:
How can we improve quality of life for
aged care residents?
Creativity is a big factor
IMPROVING QUALITY of life for people living in
residential aged care is about nurturing the whole person
and understanding what really matters to them.
Good management of clinical needs was the focus of
residential care for a long time. This has now become what
you might call a ‘hygiene’ factor – an assumed baseline for
quality aged care providers.
However, the reality is that our consumer is coming
to us much later in life and with much higher care
needs. Improving quality of life has to balance care for
clinical needs with an understanding of the social, emotional
and physical needs of each individual person so that you can
ensure that their lives continue to be meaningful.
Great aged care can mean that residents continue to
experience personal growth, perhaps even achieve things that
would not have been possible had they stayed at home. For
some, it can also offer restorative care, improving physical
health and function so that residents can return home.
Achieving individualised care for residents in aged care
can mean a cultural shift and some innovative thinking
around care planning and care deliver y. Having a consistent
way of measuring and evaluating wellbeing in care planning
is an important starting point.
Whiddon has found that the Adult Social Care
Outcomes Tool (ASCOT) is a fantastic way of structuring
these wellbeing conversations with residents and their
families and understanding the impact of
care ser vices on their quality of life.
Our care model and relationship-based
care program is having a significant effect on
residents’ quality of life. This program skills
up all staff with new engagement and communication skills,
and gives them permission to partner with residents and
their families to tailor care and activities for the individual.
Part of the program sees ever y resident experiencing a
“best week” ever y quarter with individual events that relive
old hobbies such as sailing, fishing and going to the beach and
ticking off personal goals that they thought could never happen.
Creativity is a big factor in improving quality of life in
aged care. That includes creative solutions around how
and what you deliver, as well as offering opportunities for
creative expression and purposeful activities daily.
Our creative ageing programs include HenPower, which
offers contact with and caring for chooks and and new
social connections. There is also our intergenerational choir
programs, which includes the Art Health Institute’s SOLT
program, art, cooking and food traditions programs, dance,
music and gardening.
All of these attract volunteers and help to make our
homes vibrant places, every day.
Karn Nelson is executive general manager, strategy
and innovation at The Whiddon Group.
Need to identify risk and resilient profiles
QUALITY OF LIFE (Qol) is a broad term, so it
is important for leaders in this field to clarify their
understanding of the concept and consider it specifically
with regard to people in aged care settings.
This is a necessary starting point because if we want to
improve something, we must first articulate what it is and
then find suitable indicators to evaluate outcomes. Like
all psychological constructs, QoL is best understood and
measured within a framework of good science.
With this in mind, it is concerning that there is only
limited scientifically robust, published data available that
describes the subjective QoL of aged care residents.
One reason for a lack of good quality research in this
area is due to heightened methodological challenges and
ethical sensitivities facing researchers. For example, age-
related cognitive and physical decline among older people
can threaten the integrity of data.
Obtaining these data, however, remains important because
it has the potential to identify risk and resilient profiles among
older people and inform aged care policy and ser vice deliver y.
It can also help better understand the impact that aged care
practices, programs and inter ventions have on the psychological
wellbeing and aged care related QoL of residents.
Moreover, we need to achieve a better understanding
of a variety of aspects related to a person’s aged care
experience, for example satisfaction with
personal autonomy, control over daily
living, food and drink, feelings of safety,
social connection with other people, and a
room that is clean and presentable, which
can only be captured by self-report. This information can
signify areas in need of improvement and suitability of
ser vices that enhance the day-to-day living experience and
subsequent QoL of aged-care residents.
Currently, there are no normative data for subjective
measures of QoL for people living in aged care but such
data would facilitate powerful comparisons. It would
enable the identification of sub-groups of older people who
experience lower subjective QoL and who are more likely to
benefit from supportive ser vices. It could also identify best
practice, which has implications for policy.
All people have the right to participate in research,
especially the most vulnerable. It gives them a chance to be
heard and to have their needs and concerns embedded in
policy and practices that ultimately determine, at least to
some extent, how their lives are governed.
Dr Adrian J. Tomyn is a subjective wellbeing expert,
manager, work and student health insights within
Bupa’s ANZ corporate and international team and an
honorary fellow at Deakin University.
20 | NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2017
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