Nov 26, 2020

New award recognises four amazing aged care innovators

The Inaugural innovAGEING Innovator of the Year Award

The national innovAGEING Awards will be presented tonight in an online event broadcast from Sydney.

Says Merlin Kong, the Head of innovAGEING: “We celebrate our diverse and imaginative champions, who have channelled the best of ageing into people-centred innovation.

“We are also excited this year to introduce a special Innovator of the Year Award, to honour particular entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs.”

With the support of Foundation Partners the Commonwealth Bank and KPMG, this prize recognises specific high achievers, showcasing the individual innovators who shine in the age services sector.

Here are the inaugural Innovator of the Year finalists and their amazing innovations in aged care.

April Creed and Rebecca Glover – the ExSitu app

Both of us have worked in aged care for over 45 years and we identified some of the challenges in the sector, creating the ExSitu web-based app.

April Creed and Rebecca Glover developed the ExSitu app.
April Creed and Rebecca Glover developed the ExSitu app.

This helps people reflect on and communicate those insights into clinically and legally recognised documents.

We took into account the poor uptake of traditional Advanced Care Planning documents, due to the fact that people often find them confronting and complex, which can leave them in a really vulnerable position.

Their families are often left to make hard decisions, without a roadmap.

This year, we took our app across the country and now anybody can get online and create their Advance Care Directive in their own words and feel safe and secure for the future.

Recent market research says that 90 per cent of older Australians are connected to the internet and ExSitu is easier than Facebook. 

There is also the option for people to do this process with a facilitator and this is also a great opportunity for families to get together.

We get absolute joy when we know that people have completed a document, not that we see it – it is putting power in the hands of people.

Kate Weger, Southern Cross Care SA, NT, Victoria – the Wound Champion program

Through our Wound Champions, we have been able to educate and support staff, with additional resources to be champions of this portfolio – not just managing risk factors and healing but also preventing wounds and driving healthy skin promotion through every factor of care.

Kate Weger, Southern Cross Care, developed the Wound Champion program.
Kate Weger, Southern Cross Care, developed the Wound Champion program.

At Southern Cross Care, our ‘Better for life’ approach is all about keeping residents moving and healthy for as long as possible.

Within a year we have reduced facility acquired pressure injuries by 53 per cent, we have lowered skin tears by 30 per cent and we have reduced total wounds by 20 per cent.

We have gyms in all of our 17 Residential Care homes, we have dieticians, physiotherapists, occupational therapist, podiatrists and exercise physiologists – a holistic health promotion approach.

Our staff go above and beyond the call of duty for our residents, because they truly value working in aged care and they realise that it is such an honour to learn from our valued older Australians.

We work with every person, looking at what are their goals are and how we can help them achieve them, to be better for life.

For example, we have seen people come in with complex wounds and multiple comorbidities and we have been able to re-enable and rehabilitate them, heal their wounds and then they have been able to return to their own home on a community package.

Doreen Power, Lyndoch Living – Leadership in developing an integrated care model

The innovation and the built environment at Lyndoch Living is something I would like to see as a leader and be considered across the nation in aged care. I want people to know that aged care is a great place to work and a great place to provide healthy lives.

We have turned ageing into the concept of living well, adapting our environment to individuals and ensuring they are all active members of our community.

It is about re-building our spaces and making smaller spaces, to support integrated care.

The exciting part for me is about co-location and linking in education hubs in our spaces because I believe that for any transformational change, education is a critical aspect, including developing our workforce and looking at the social, physical and emotional wellbeing of our residents.

We are developing a primary healthcare precinct, after acquiring two GP practices, with pharmacy, radiology and pathology onsite, which will also be for the wider community.

We are about opening the doors of aged care to the community, so people and students can come in and be involved in intergenerational learning.

We’re demystifying ageing and that is so important and we have managed a big change in our culture.

Colin McDonnell, Calvary Care – digital tools to support people living with dementia 

Colin has partnered with independent living solutions company Leef to trial new evidence-based activities that use smart technology to encourage participation and enhance the wellbeing of Calvary’s aged care residents.

Colin McDonnell, Calvary Care, developed a digital tools to support people living with dementia.
Colin McDonnell, Calvary Care, developed a digital tools to support people living with dementia.

The activities, which include a virtual cycling tour of places near and far to promote reminiscing and an interactive games table, are person-centred and intuitive, enable and invite participation by all, and have provided therapeutic, social, fun and enriching opportunities for residents’ wellbeing and meaningful engagement. 

The trials in Calvary retirement communities in NSW, the ACT and South Australia have been part of Calvary’s holistic, resident-centred wellbeing approach for frail aged and people living with dementia.

Colin has long been an innovator and advocate in aged care, with particular interest in person-centred care, design, and innovation to help enable independence for the physically frail and people living with dementia. He is an Honorary Fellow in the Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health at Wollongong University, and an Adjunct Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Health Science at the University of Sydney. 

Programs initiated by Colin have won numerous national and international awards and accolades, including a World Health Organisation short film award for the Finding the Why video.

Lead image: Doreen Power, Lyndoch Living, supplied.

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