This Year in The Aged Care Sector

Arcare Templestowe lounge

The year 2019 has been a very important one for the aged care sector. I am an Aged Care Placement Consultant and have shared many of the issues, developments and opinions that are helping to shape the future of aged care in Australia.

Developments in the treatment of dementia have featured quite prominently. In January the Specialist Dementia Care Program (SDCP) was beginning to roll out. Offering specialised, transitional residential support for people exhibiting very severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD), which focuses on reducing or stabilising symptoms over time, the program will provide care for those who are unable to be appropriately cared for by mainstream aged care services. The first specialist units are scheduled to be operational in 2020, with a further roll out in 2021-23.

Assistive technologieswere being developed through the year. One example is a prototype called DRESS to help people with dementia dress themselves. The carer initiates the dress sequence via a mobile device and the recorded voice prompts the person to dress themselves, correcting mistakes. Japan is heading to a workforce crisis in numbers with a rapidly aging population, so the government is encouraging the use of technology in aged care. An example is a robotic device that helps frail residents get out of bed and into a wheelchair or ease them into bathtubs.

And talking robots, I met my first robot in May this year, Lamson, when visiting a newly built aged care facility, Trinity Manor in Greensborough. It delivers medicine and meals, takes laundry and can even use lifts. Also, Griffith University has been using social robots to interact with people with dementia.

Ikkiworks has developed a robot called Ikki, who is a companion and a clinician and will eventually be used in aged care. Ikki can take a patient’s temperature and identify medication and alert the patient if the medication is incorrect.

Another approach to dementia care is the Montessori Inspired Lifestyle ® (MIL) developed by Dr. Cameron Camp. “Within this new paradigm, abilities, interests, and preferences will be respected, encouraged and maximized. Providing choice throughout the day is central to all interactions. Central to MIL is the creation of meaningful activities and social roles within the context of a community.” said Dr. Camp.

The aged care workforce was a subject that kept coming up, particularly the need for more nurses to be on call within facilities. I reported on an interesting study by Adelaide University published in April 2018 into the attraction and retention of staff to aged care. There were many reasons why working in the sector was attractive but the perception of this work as low level and underpaid was a negative.

In defence of the work Melanie Mazzarolli, Regional Business Manager, Residential Services at Benetas wrote in an article about the privilege of supporting someone on their journey to death, similar to supporting birth, and that relationships can be formed over long periods, rarely matched in other nursing roles. She also mentioned the passion of those employed in this sector. With the increase in the aging population more workers will be needed in the sector but finding and retaining them will be an ongoing challenge.

The Royal Commission into Aged Care was prevalent on the news for much of the year and painted a very negative picture of the sector. Clearly improvements across the sector are needed and a statement by the AMA this month spoke of using technologiesto assist meet the demands for care for the elderly. These technologies are already being developed and support for more development is needed.

Ending on a bright note the touching and beautifully produced documentary series The Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds aired on ABC in August and September took a look at an experiment in an intergenerational program. This experiment is the first of its kind conducted in Australia with structured activities used to encourage interactions between the children and adults as they worked together to achieve particular goals. Health measurements were taken before and after the program and showed positive outcomes. Professor Susan Kurrle, who oversaw the program, believes the implications of this successful trial could be huge.

I look forward to a more positive focus on aged care in 2020, with improvements and developments that will assist the sector to deliver a high level of quality care to all our older residents.

AMA Calls For Innovation In Aged Care

japanese robotics

As we draw to the end of a year in which the aged care sector was put under the microscope during the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, it is time to take a deep breath and consider how to improve the operations of aged care facilities moving forward. I am a Placement Consultantand assist my clients to find suitable aged care accommodation so I am always inspecting aged care facilities and keep a close eye on their operations. It was with great interest I saw the Australian Medical Association President, Dr Tony Bartone, has recently issued a statement in which he said the Royal Commission had uncovered an aged care system plagued by “rigid conformity and an absence of innovation”.

He states “Innovation is vital to improve the level of care provided, to deliver consumer-centred care, and enable the sustainability of the aged care system. ”

The position statement contains six principles:

Resourcing

Electronic records

Medication management

Assistive technology

Communication

Data

The AMA is calling for more investment in assistive technologies, citing wearable sensors, virtual reality testing and smartphones have assisted with monitoring functionality in older people and detecting falls. “Monitoring technologies provide opportunities for longer independent living of older people, a better focused and personalised care in both home care and residential aged care settings,” it says. Also highlighted was the need for clear data privacy guidelines around sensor-based monitoring technology, wearable sensors and implantable technologies.

Due to the frequency with which older people move between aged care, primary care and acute care settings electronic record keeping and information exchange between care settings is crucial. “Interoperability between My Health Record, My Aged Care, and clinical software systems would enable electronic health record sharing between the health and aged care systems,” the position statement says. Communication technologies such as telehealth can enhance access to GP services, further improving health care access.

Looking at more resourcing for technological innovation the position statement says “Investment in innovation is needed to ensure that mainstream developments are accessible to all those accessing aged care services, not just those who can afford them.” The AMA stresses that this technology should not replace human care and engagement, confirming that “Adequate staffing numbers and appropriate mix of care staff skills is a continuous resourcing requirement in aged care.”

 

 

Read the full AMA position statement here.

 

 

 

 

 

New Aged Care Facility Sparkles in Templestowe

 

Arcare Templestowe lounge

A delightful new aged care facility opened in Templestowe, Melbourne earlier this year. Its official opening date was April 4th. I have since placed four of my clients there, who are very happy with the facility. It is a single storey residence, has lovely, large suites including double suites for couples.

Arcare Templestowe suite IMG_1692 (edited-Pixlr)

This is good news for me because, as a Placement Consultant, I often have requests from couples for a double suite and, in the past, it has been hard to place couples in suitable aged care accommodation where they can share a room. Thankfully we can see in the new facilities being built there is more awareness of the need for couples’ accommodation.

IMG_1670 (edited-Pixlr)

 

Intimate dining and lounge areas create a cosy feel for residents and there is a separate dining room where residents can invite their families for a meal. A boutique café caters for casual snacks and drinks through the day and food is cooked fresh daily for meals. There is 24/7 nursing care for all residents.

Feeling good about yourself is important and the hair dressing salon onsite ensures residents can have a bit of pampering and lovey hair styles. Entertainment is at hand with a good sized billiards table, movie room and a wide range of activities and outings.

IMG_1675 (edited-Pixlr)

During the year residents visited the Heide Museum of Modern Art at Bulleen and Montsaalvat in Eltham where one of the residents commented on how the building was constructed in the 1930s by its then residents, mainly out of recycled materials.

arcare templestow montsalvat

Picture from Arcare Templestowe website.

Lifestyle coordinator Noelene said, “It important that our clients to come out on these bus trips, as they enable the clients to feel connected to the community and encourage the clients to socialise with each other. It always so interesting to hear the conversations that come from our outings; the clients have so many quirky stories, history and knowledge that come out.”

Arcare Templestowe also incorporates The Marsden sensitive care unit, a secure area which specifically cares for clients who are living with progressed dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

I have over twenty year’s experience in aged careand a good knowledge of the facilities available in Melbourne and surrounds. If your client or family member needs support in finding the most suitable facility please contact me.

 

When You Must Find An Aged Care Facility

Benetas Hedelberg jpgMost elderly people would prefer to stay in their own home, living independently and the government is currently grappling to provide the level of support that will allow as many people as possible to live safely at home. The long wait times and, in some cases, inadequate service providers have been highlighted in the Royal Commission into Aged Care. As associate tells me of her 97 year old Aunty with mild dementia and some memory loss, but bright in spirit and determined to stay at home alone since losing her husband this year who has a nine month wait for a package. At that age it is debateable whether she will live long enough to receive the support she deserves.

So, apart from the problems of delivering the level of care needed to help people stay in their own homes the reality is there are people whose needs are such high care they can only be supported safely in an aged care facility. These are the people I assist when they need to find suitable accommodation with the level of care needed. It is often an emotional and stressful time for a person and their family as they are suddenly in a situation where there has been a fall or deterioration to the point that immediate accommodation with high-level care must be found.

The pathway is usually that the person has been hospitalised and once their immediate injuries are resolved the hospital needs to discharge them to suitable care. It is assessed that they are not able to be looked after adequately in their home and so an aged care facility must be found as soon as possible.

This places a great deal of stress on the family and the elderly person is often disorientated and grieving at leaving their family home. I help families and their loved one to find suitable aged care accommodation by interviewing them to be clear on their needs and wants and then finding appropriate accommodation options for them to choose from. Some of the more regular requests are: a facility located close enough to the family so they can visit frequently, somewhere that has a good activities program, a double suite for a couple to share, good quality food, nice outlook and garden surrounds and, ofcourse, caring staff. Because I know many of the Managers in the aged care sector and am familiar with the facilities I am in a position to recommend suitable options.

It makes me happy to find a place that makes my clients happy. I received two testimonials recently I would like to share with you:

“Making the decision to have Jillian as our Placement Consultant was like finding a ‘pot of gold’.  From the first phone call we felt a sense of relief as she was very reassuring and caring.Jillian helped our family situation enormously. We highly recommend her services, very efficient, excellent negotiation skills, first-rate knowledge of the aged care homes and the complex aged care system”

Gail and Andrea  2019

“I couldn’t have done any of this without you. You have been wonderful”

Barry, Albert Park 2019

You’ll find more lovely testimonials on my website.

Aged Care As the Population Ages

Bluecross Box Hill-06

It’s a great outcome in health terms that Australians have one of the highest life expectancies in the world. But this presents certain challenges with an increasing ageing population. The baby boomers, those born just after the second world war, are now ageing, with the first of them turning 65 in 2011. As a result in 2017 3.8 million Australians were in the 65 and over age range. This represented 15 per cent of the population. By 2050, 1.8 million people will be over the age of 85.

At the same time we have a decline in fertility rates, with the number of children per woman falling from 3.5 to 1.8.

Healthcare

Naturally, health care is going to become a high priority as the population continues to age. According to a report by the Parliamentary Budget Office, demand for health services rise upon a person reaching their 70s, with the need for aged care services increasing further when they reach the age of 80.

There is a movement away from hospital care to at-home support services. People would much rather be treated and looked after within their own home than spend lengthy periods of time in hospital. It is also a more cost effective method of providing adequate health care to the elderly. So, in terms of primary care costs this is an improvement. However, the system needs re-evaluation to keep up with demand.

Aged care facilities will still be needed for people with high demand needs, such as 24 hour care. Ensuring they are managed and staffed to a level that the community finds acceptable is of utmost importance. I know from my experience as a Placement Consultant that there are many very well run aged care facilities that meet expectations, but there are those that do not. I scrupulously research facilities for my clients and follow up with them to ensure they and their families are satisfied.

We must aim for a standard across the board that provides excellent care and respect for our elderly. After all they paved the way for the rest of us to live in such a privileged society.