Spirituality of caring for frail older people incorporated in new guide

A research-based guide from Meaningful Ageing Australia supporting aged care staff on ways to incorporate spirituality into care for frail older people launches this week.

Ilsa Hampton, CEO of Meaningful Ageing Australia emphasises the importance of shaping language around the older person’s perceived identity.

‘It’s important to focus on the abilities of older people despite any increasing frailty and chronic conditions and acknowledge them as people rather than the sum of their symptoms.

‘The word frailty implies vulnerability and weakness.  Our interviewees were proud of their remaining abilities and independence.’

Ilsa Hampton, CEO of Meaningful Ageing Australia believes that spiritual wellbeing can be harnessed and maintained even as increased frailty threatens an older person’s physical and mental capabilities.

Ms Hampton adds that rather than leaving people feeling as if life is over, aged care providers should be encouraged to ignite their imaginations and partner with older people for the whole of their lives, beyond when the body will not do what it used to.

The guide encourages aged care staff to actively listen, pause and collaborate in shared ideas sessions such as at working lunches and team meetings.  Strong bonds of trust between staff and older people should be celebrated and shared.

Creative thinking can develop solutions for varied challenges when caring for the older person.  For example, knitting groups could visit a bedridden person who is socially isolated.  Older people with a love of gardening can still experience it with indoor plants, or by feeling soil through their fingers.

Dr. Elizabeth MacKinlay, Associate Professor at Charles Sturt University says the guide opens up the topic of how to interact with and holistically care for older people who are becoming frail.

‘It contains much needed practical information and education tools for learning how to provide best care for people in this situation. It will be invaluable for training purposes and particularly, at this time, as it incorporates the new standards for quality aged care in Australia.’

The free guide now available on the Meaningful Ageing website includes several scenarios centred around reflective listening by aged care staff and ongoing spiritual practices for connecting with older people.  Printable worksheets and a guide to further resources are also provided.

For further details/ interview with Ilsa Hampton contact Liz Foster on 0405 358 716 / [email protected].

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