Improving the Quality of Life for Residents in Aged Care


Many approaches are being tried in aged care facilities to improve the quality of life for residents. As a Placement Consultant I like to know that my clients will enjoy a contented and engaging life once they move into an aged care home, that not only will their physical needs be taken care of but their emotional, spiritual and intellectual needs too. Some fine examples of programs that help provide a good quality of life are discussed below:

Music therapist Heather Seyhun at ACH West Park Adelaide, brought in her own collection of drums from Africa and Brazil to begin a music trial she devised. Three months on, she says she’s amazed at how the group has evolved and the positive changes she has witnessed.

“When we started out, people were a bit unsure, because most had never hit a drum before, and felt outside their comfort zone,” she says. “Now they’re loving it, and they’re getting really good.”

Heather has seen improvements in wellbeing, socialisation, self-confidence and mobility. “You can see the enjoyment, the new friendships – playing music with others creates a special bond.” she says “Watching people with physical limitation participating, growing in confidence and supporting each other is so rewarding.”

A Zen Garden has been created at St. Patrick’s Green, Kogarah, NSW, based on the philosophy that a bit of nature is good for the soul and will allow residents to relax and meditate, among the sounds of a water feature and rustling palms.

Other wellbeing rooms are the Spa Room and Reflection Room. Residents can enjoy a soothing massage experience, complete with lavender essential oils, calming music, facials and other beauty treatments for a complete pamper experience.

The Reflection Room provides a tranquil space for residents to reflect on life, away from the bustle of communal areas. It also acts as a private space for residents to meet with the manager of Spiritual and Holistic Care if anything is troubling them.

Some therapies that research have found to be effective are:

Animals and pet therapy;Aromatherapy; Art therapy and craft; Behavioural activation and pleasant events; Bright light therapy; Cognitive behaviour therapy; Cognitive and memory skills interventions; Companion robot; Dance and movement;Dementia care mapping; Humour therapy; Laughter yoga; Life review; Life review therapy; Massage; Music and singing; Person-centred care; Restorative approaches; Simple reminiscence;Yoga.

More indepth information is available in the studyWhat works to promote emotional wellbeing in older people: A guide for aged care staff working in community or residential care settings. Melbourne: beyondblue by Wells, Y., Bhar, S., Kinsella, G., Kowalski, C., Merkes, M., Patchett, A., Salzmann, B., Teshuva, K., & van Holsteyn, J. (2014).






Pet Therapy Has Many Benefits For The Elderly

Pet Therapy

Latest research has shown that Pet Therapy can boost health and general well-being in humans, particularly in the elderly. Research has revealed many benefits from Pet Therapy, including:
Decreased blood pressure
Less stress
Improved communication
Recall and reminiscence
Improved motor skills
Improved mood
Improved socialisation

Many of the elderly people who were normally unresponsive to other therapies were found to  ‘brighten up’ and have a little chat with a pet. Pets used for Pet Therapy should first undergo special training so they don’t panic when faced with real life scenarios. They should we well socialised, be very obedient and know how to interact with people using mobility aids such as crutches, walking sticks and wheelchairs.

Pet Therapy is offered in some residential aged care facilities and is a type of therapy involving animals as a form of treatment. The goal may be to improve a patient’s social, emotional, or cognitive functioning. The positive benefits of pets have been demonstrated to stimulate social interaction, reduce anxiety, combat depression and overcome some of the negative aspects of living in care.

Pet Therapy or Animal Assisted Therapy can be used specifically for dementia care and can contribute to the reduction of the use of medications, including psychotropic drugs for behavioural problems (Schols and Van der Schriek-van Meel 2006). It is important that residents who are introduced to this therapy are those that have previously enjoyed looking after domestic pets or being around animals,that they don’t have known allergies to animals, that they don’t fear or intensely dislike domestic pets or animals and don’t have a history of animal abuse. Those that didn’t like animals previously are less likely to respond in a positive or therapeutic way.
People with early stages of dementia may enjoy looking at pets, walking them, stroking or brushing them. Pet Therapy is also therapeutic for people that have some vision and hearing loss and need tactile stimulation.