Dec 04, 2017

Critical Need for Older People to feel at “Home” in Care

One of the hardest things about moving into aged care, is the transition of moving from your old home to your new “home”. But sometimes that can be overlooked in priority of other needs of the resident’s.

“The concept of home includes experiential and emotional aspects: a feeling of familiarity, security, and comfort; an ability to follow personal routines; and a place to relate to significant others and to keep personal belongings” – van Hoof

For older people, experiencing a sense of home when they transition to residential aged care is just as important as the clinical care they receive.

Anglicare Australia’s annual State of the Family Report, detailed how the organisation’s new approach to aged care is purposely designed as a home first, in “Feeling at home when you can’t live at home anymore”.

The essay’s author, Dr Catherine Joyce, says there is a need for providers to prioritise this aspect of resident well being.

“Creating a sense of home within settings such as residential aged care is inherently challenging, but providers must embrace this as we support increasing consumer choice and control,” said Dr Joyce.

Choice and control that can often feel lost:

“Older adults who transition to residential aged care unexpectedly, directly from hospital or following an acute health crisis, can often find the process of adjustment punctuated by a sense of grief and loss.” 

The essay explores what a sense of ‘home’ means in the context of residential aged care, particularly as people arrive at the point of deciding on their ‘last home’.

“Moving into a residential care facility is life changing for the resident, and often for family as well. Your world as you know it, and how you interact with it has fundamentally shifted.”

“Traditional aged care facilities compound the loss of meaning and control due to the very nature of how they are designed, how they work to meet regulations and budget targets, and by standardizing routines.”

“Our new approach to residential care is designed to disrupt the dependence and regimentation of traditional aged care, and enable residents to engage meaningfully, and live as independently as possible, in their last home.”


Ever-evolving Aged Care

Feeling at home when you can’t live at home anymore is illustrated with the experiences of Benetas residents – where Dr Joyce is Research and Innovation Manager.

Benetas CEO Sandra Hills said that their organisation had deliberately moved away from traditional, institutional approaches to care to facilitate a better experience of ageing for older people – which included the opening of two state-of-the-art aged care apartment sites.

“We understand that the transition to residential aged care might not be an easy one for older people and their loved ones, and we’re committed to ensuring older people feel respected and heard throughout the process,” said Ms Hills.

“Our new approach to aged care is part of placing the older person at the heart of everything we do, and this has then gone on to inform how our systems and processes interact, and how we understand the role of the built form.”

“Older people have a right to a sense of belonging and a feeling of security as they age, and this shouldn’t be compromised just because they have entered residential aged care,” said Ms Hills.

“Our apartment model sees small groups of residents who share common ground, living together and sharing living and dining areas,” says Ms Hills.

“The model prioritises the relationships between carers and residents, with each apartment supported by a primary carer who gets to know and understand the needs of each resident.”

All back of house functions such as catering and walkways are external to the apartments, promoting resident privacy, said Ms Hills.

“We’ve very proud of our approach and encourage government and industry to continue to better understand and value the needs of older people, including their right to a positive older age.”

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