May 30, 2024

Improving access to restorative and wellbeing care for older Australians

image: [iStock].

Restorative and wellbeing care is essential for enhancing independence and self-confidence in older Australians and improving their quality of life. In Australia, residential aged care (RAC) residents are not receiving the recommended quantities and types of allied health care to support restorative and wellbeing care.

A new Policy Issues Brief released today by AHHA’s Deeble Institute for Health Policy Research, examines the barriers to providing restorative and wellbeing care for our ageing population.

‘The low quantities of care adversely affect RAC resident health and system outcomes and create inequities in accessing restorative and wellbeing services,’ says AHHA Chief Executive Kylie Woolcock.

‘This warrants significant reform of allied health service delivery in RAC.’

The Policy Brief, coauthored by Isabelle Meulenbroeks, recipient of the Deeble Institute’s 2024 Jeff Cheverton Memorial Scholarship, and PhD Candidate at the Australian Institute of Health Innovation, Macquarie University, recommends bringing Australia into line with world leading health systems in delivery of restorative and wellbeing care in RAC.

‘All Australian residential aged care (RAC) facilities should aim to offer a high-intensity, short-term restorative care program for residents following acute care, and the resources for restorative and wellbeing care in RACs should be increased to align with those provided to other Australian populations and supported by evidence-based literature.’

‘To achieve this, it will be essential to recognise the need to minimise service disruptions and ensure more equitable access to allied health services in RAC,’ says Ms Woolcock.

‘Collapsing existing allied health funding in RAC under the Australian National Aged Care Classification is proposed to help with this.’

‘Partnerships between allied health and RAC providers should be funded, trialled, and evaluated, while data collection should be consumer-focused. This will help determine if we are providing meaningful outcomes that actually matter to them.

‘Failure to address barriers to providing restorative and wellbeing care will negatively impact the health of residential aged care (RAC) residents and underscores the need for significant reform in the delivery of allied health services in RAC.’

The Jeff Cheverton Scholarship is supported by North Western Melbourne and Brisbane North Primary Health Networks.

The Issues Brief ‘Restorative and wellbeing care in Australian residential aged care facilities’ can be accessed via the AHHA website: https://ahha.asn.au/resource/restorative-and-wellbeing-care-in-australian-residential-aged-care-facilities/

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