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Age-friendly city, relationship program nab Quality Agency awards

An age-friendly community, relationship-based care and a ‘back to country’ program were all recently recognised with gongs from the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency.

This year’s Better Practice Awards celebrated the dedication of workers and providers in Australia’s world class aged care sector, said Ken Wyatt, Minister for Aged Care – now also Minister for Senior Australians.

“Each in their own way has created an environment that has led to positive health and wellbeing outcomes for older Australians,” Wyatt said.

Keeping it friendly
The City of Boroondara was one of three National Innovation and Excellence in Aged Care Award recipients.

It put the win down to its Creating an Age-Friendly Boroondara strategy, which led to the implementation of programs like a casserole club, the addition of adult outdoor fitness equipment and an annual age-friendly forum.

“These initiatives have allowed us to deliver essential services to meet the diverse needs of those aged 55+ in Boroondara,” the city said.

In 2012, the city was also recognised by the World Health Organization as an age-friendly city – one of only six Australian cities to have received this recognition at that time.

Returning home
The promise of sending Aboriginal care recipients home to their traditional lands led Fresh Fields Aged Care to its award win in the same category.

Its Back to Country program aims to provide social connection and hope, and inspire positive mental health outcomes.

“Due to the urban location, our home has care recipients with high-level care needs. Many of these people identify as Aboriginal and are traditional land owners from remote areas of the state who have been transferred to the city for medical care,” the Fresh Fields team said.

“The Back to Country program consists of evaluating whether the person’s health condition can be stabilised and rehabilitated to a level of fitness and independence where they would be able to return to their home.”

Those who have been able to return home benefit from social inclusion, an increased sense of community and the sense of being ‘back in country’, the team added.

Making your connection
Rounding out the winners in the innovation and excellence category was The Whiddon Group (NSW), which was recognised for embedding relationship-based care.

The provider said its care philosophy has always been based on a belief that personal growth and meaningful activity can be possible regardless of age and frailty.

“The launch of our new MyLife model of care – which integrates care for social, emotional and physical needs – provided us with the opportunity to consider how best to ensure a consistent and holistic approach to care and create true cultural change,” the Whiddon Group (NSW) said.

Whiddon created a new program manager role to drive the trial program and subsequent three-year roll out across all 27 residential and community care services. It also set up focus carers called MyLife Buddies who were allocated to each resident to develop the relationship, partner with family and advocate for them to other staff.

The team said the model has empowered clients and families to be true partners in their care and gives permission – along with the right skills – to staff to deliver relationship-based care.

At the awards, the Quality Agency also recognised organisations that represent “exemplars of good practice”.

This year’s winners were:
ECH Incorporated (SA) – for its ECH LGBTI Connect Service
Feros Care (QLD) – for Grow Bold – Independent Fulfilled Lives
Feros Care (NSW) – for Trials to Smiles – Sunbeam Legacy
Resthaven Incorporated – for Restoring Older People’s Lives
Sacred Heart Community (Vic) – for My Community My Way
Montefiore (NSW) – for its Integrated Cognitive and Sensory Program
Yackandandah Bush Nursing Hospital (Vic) – for Let’s Grow Old Together

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