Over the last few years, we have seen a significant shift in the way that care is provided to elderly loved ones across Australia.
In our past experience, care was typically task orientated and facilities were run more like a production line.
Think, everyone showered before breakfast (whether they wanted to be or not), group activities based on time/resources rather than personal preferences and often there was no further meal options but instead a “take it or leave it” scenario.
According to Aged Care Ready, facilities felt more like an institution, rather than a home.
Our Associate Director, Naomi Anderson, says in 2019 we saw the introduction of new Aged Care Quality standards that covered both Aged Care Facilities and Community Care – where as previously they were two separate parties.
“With the introduction of new standards, came the ‘Consumer Directed Care’ movement, new standards were put in place for the care recipient at the centre of their care, and all care provided revolves around their individual needs, preferences, dignity and choice,” says Ms Anderson.
“There is still some confusion around the topic, however, with some questioning how a care recipient with dementia for example, would have the capacity to make choices in regards to their care.”
Refusal of hygiene is a common theme amongst residents with dementia, so the concern is that this could also be a path to neglect.
However, providing a resident with choices is not limited to ‘would you like a shower today’ – a question that requires a yes or no answer, as the likely answer will always be ‘no’.
But it is more about providing options that still give the resident the best possible outcome: ‘would you like a shower before or after breakfast?’.
Ms Anderson shares that consumer directed care also means that the staff get to know the resident really well: what their likes/dislikes are, and what are the triggers for possible behaviours are so that they can be avoided.
“Along with the consumer directed care movement, the homestyle model of care is also becoming more apparent,” says Ms Anderson.
“The homestyle model of care is not a new development, and has been part of communities for a long time – particularly in European countries,”
“The homestyle model of care is meant to replicate a more ‘normal’ living situation: smaller wings ‘households’ with kitchenettes, laundries and dedicated staff. Think where residents care is completed alongside them, rather than for them, and support is increased as the residents care needs increases,”
“Residents can be as involved or uninvolved as they like in activities such as making their own meals, doing their own laundry etc.”
Drawing on Aged Care Ready’s vast experience and dedication to really touring and investigating all facilities, Ms Anderson shares that from the tours of these types of facilities, we have also noticed that all residents are welcome in their households and that ageing in place is a common theme.
“Locked Dementia units are becoming less common and residents with capacity are alongside residents with dementia,” shares the Aged Care Professional.
“Facilities who have conducted extensive research into the program report a significant decrease in aggression and dementia related behaviours if they have interaction with other residents who have capacity.”
So why does all of this matter?
It matters because it means that the quality of care is increasing (finally).
Finally! Our elderly loved ones have access to care based on what they would want.
It’s also a much more transparent system, as the facilities documentation must prove what steps are taken for each individual to ensure the quality standards are being upheld.
When taking a tour, we always ask what changes the facility has implemented as a result of the new quality standards.
Standard answers include: additional options to meals, extra lifestyle activities, more choices etc.
But it pays to ask what changes they have made that makes them stand out from other facilities in the area.
We find that the facilities that have the answer to this question, have really hit the ground running with consumer directed care and have a drive for continuous quality improvement for the benefit of their residents – which is imperative.
If you’re seeking residential aged care or at home care, our Aged Care Angels are here to help and would love to offer their assistance.