Home | Practical Living | South Australia leading the way in aged care innovation
(From left to right) Liberal candidate for Mayo Georgina Downer, Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade, Member for Heysen Josh Teague, GCMA executive director of LifeLab Veera Mustonen, and GCMA chief executive Julianne Parkinson. Photo: GCMA

South Australia leading the way in aged care innovation

Before the nation’s eyes turned to the aged care sector with the royal commission, South Australia had its own reckoning.

The Oakden scandal and subsequent inquiry seems to have set off a concerted effort to lift the standards of aged care in the state.

Recent news that a select group of state facilities will trial CCTV use has been welcomed, as has the news that Loxton in South Australia is offering free training via its hospital for people interested in becoming direct care attendants.

Strathalbyn, around 50 kilometres south of Adelaide, is another SA town trying to improve the lives of aged care residents.

On 7 March 2019, the SA government announced a $12 million upgrade of the Strathalbyn and District Aged Care Facility and set in motion a co-design process, engaging with experts Global Centre for Modern Ageing (GCMA) and the Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) to conduct and synthesise consultation with community and stakeholders.

Julianne Parkinson, GCMA chief executive, said the SA government has taken this opportunity to not just build a space but ways in which they could improve the precinct around Strathalbyn.

“It’s a regional town. The facility would normally rely on the people inside the aged care facility. We’re also aware of the ageing opportunities and needs of people who live in and around the township and in neighbouring farms,” Parkinson told Aged Care Insite.

“It was about having a brand-new conversation about what is it that we would look for in a facility and the precinct… And using co-design principles and techniques that encouraged the thought, the creativity, and innovation of many.”

This co-design process involved leading creative workshops with clinicians and residents, as well as potential future residents, families and the community at large.

“And the conversation, therefore, was a lot more inclusive and holistic in what ageing means in and around Strathalbyn,” said Parkinson.

The community consultation brought forth six key design principles: home, not institution; social connectedness; meaning and purpose; choice and control; valuing people; and transitions.

“What was important, I think, is that it included architects, health professionals, residents and families throughout all of it. The architects were heavily involved in each and every one of these scenarios. So, they were in the room, listening intently,” Parkinson said.

SA minister for health and ageing Stephen Wade said the work of the GCMA and TACSI have provided a unique insight into community sentiment and will allow people to age well and be connected to the community.

“Feeling at home, social connectedness, sense of purpose, choice and control, valuing people, and ease of transition are all key design principles in the report.

“Some suggestions included barbeque areas, making it easier for residents to access kitchen facilities, making rooms feel more homelike, enabling hobbies such as gardening as well as flexible spaces for leisure activities and functions,” he said.

For Parkinson, this project was about creating a place based on community values, where people want to live, and people want to be involved in.

This is part of a larger remit of the GCMA, which was founded in SA in 2018 and is seeking to combat some of the issues our communities face with ageing.

“[Strathalbyn] is one example of what we think will be nation-leading work in design principles that we’re proud to be a part of.”

GCMA has finished work on another project, a driverless vehicle called Aurrigo.

“We have just completed research in a retirement village in Port Elliot into a driverless vehicle, which was trialled, viewed and validated by the residents.”

GCMA is also engaging a major bank with a view to improving ageing globally, and the LifeLab they have designed is being used to foster innovation in the aged care space.

“There are people across the planet that need support and guidance and we want to do that with evidence-based work, with older people truly at the centre of the thinking and the innovation that improved their lives.”

For more information on this project, or the GCMA, visit gcma.net.au

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One comment

  1. South Australia certainly does seem to be ahead of the curve.

    After navigating the national MyAged Care procedure, we have nothing but praise for the SA system.

    Our mother with dementia was able to obtain immediate temporary care following a trip to hospital. We then had a range of homes available from which to choose. These were very reasonably priced and offered a place with memory support. We were able to negotiate to have the respite care for 60 days then to go permanent. This allowed for finances to be put in place.

    There are always plenty of staff and the residents are well looked after. We always get notified of any event that occurs, large or small.

    Very happy with the care system in SA.