A New Approach to Aged Care: Pseudo-suburbs, Robotics and Purposeful Activity


A New Approach to Aged Care: Pseudo-suburbs, Robotics and Purposeful Activity


For all the horror stories about aged care there are positive developments. There are new models that promote purpose and meaning.

“I’d rather die.” For many – particularly in light of the horror stories that have led to a royal commission – that’s the common reaction to any suggestion about going into aged care.

But is there a new approach to this stage of life that offers alternatives and possibly even something to look forward to? Maybe. As the baby boomers edge towards their use-by date, they are showing no signs of going quietly or tolerating the conditions their parents put up with.

Dr Mike Rungie is the inaugural director of the Global Centre for Modern Ageing in Adelaide, a thinktank established by the former South Australian government, in the wake of the collapse of the automotive industry, to generate new employment opportunities in the aged care sector.

“Research tells us that older Australians are increasingly rejecting services and types of care that underline their deficiencies and ignores the fact that while you might be 95, you feel like you are still 75,” says Rungie, citing the example a worker in her 90s he met at a factory on a fact-finding tour of the US as part of his research into alternative post-retirement roles.

“The old narrative around the elderly from individuals and service providers has been one of low expectations, boredom and making the best of it. The new narrative is about purposeful activity.”

Alternative communities, based on a model widespread throughout Scandinavia, are also becoming increasingly popular.

In Queensland, Natasha Chadwick, founder and chief executive of NewDirection Care, has built what she describes as a “micro-town” at Bellmere, on the outskirts of Brisbane. It features 17 houses on six streets, each accommodating up to seven or eight residents, together with a house companion™ Support Worker/carer who does the cooking and provides all necessary support. This gives residents, including those with cognitive damage (there is no segregation according to impairment), the opportunity to maintain their own routines, rather than being forced to fit into a regimented schedule of washing, dressing and eating. The dementia-friendly configuration of the homes and the surrounding amenities in the “pseudo-suburb” include a corner shop, cafe, barber shop and cinema.

(The above is an extract from the original article. Read the full article here).

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