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Aged Care is Evolving and Actually Getting Better

I recently watched a TEDx talk by acclaimed international speaker, elder care leader, writer and gerontologist Dan Levitt, who discussed the changing trends within the aged care industry and how people in 2019 are beginning to rethink ageing.

“The rising tide of dementia and other health care problems is impairing the ability of many Australian seniors to live independently. Our baby boomers exhibit stronger preferences for independent living arrangements, greater autonomy, and choice in services than previous generations,” said Dan.

The good news is the paradigm shift has begun, as the culture within senior care living communities fundamentally changes.

Residential-care facilities are no longer the nursing homes of yesteryear, as innovations in the care of the elderly have ushered in a new era in which choice, purpose, and service are paramount.

When you think about the expectations within an aged care facility now when compared to only three decades ago, the differences are nothing short of startling. People simply demand more from their aged care providers.

“Baby boomers expect residential living environments to have a workforce highly customer service oriented; engaging programs and specialised services for seniors with advanced dementia; values that uphold health safety and dignity, and space for couples who desire privacy for intimate encounters, to name a few,” said Dan.

And while today’s current demands for an aged care provider may seem as if they should be a foregone conclusion for all care providers, the reality of the situation is that someone somewhere along the line is going to have to pay for it.

“Society cannot build enough residential care facilities and there is not enough government funding available,” said Dan.

“An obvious truth that is either ignored or going unaddressed is that all the programs and services that baby boomers will need is unsustainable given the current delivery model. The big question to answer is: who will pay for increased costs to meet the increased demands?”

While the financial ramifications of improved aged care raises many questions, one look at aged care around the globe is evidence enough that there is no shortage of impressive and innovative models of care that will slowly become the next standard of quality for the industry.

And the central theme of all of these innovations revolves around providing elderly people with more choices that allow them to live life their way and gives them a sense of purpose.

“In Tokyo Japan, 10 centenarians (people who are 100+ years old) with dementia live together in a group home where their daily choices include a minimum: 1,500 calories, 1.5 litres of their favourite beverage, walking exercises, and meaningful activities,” said Dan.

“In France, seniors move into nursing homes with time to adjust to their new home before dementia advances.

Society has made longer lengths of stay an option for seniors requiring residential care as well as capping the amount people pay. The result is that seniors become accustomed to their environment.”

This push towards increasing independence and allowing elderly people to dictate the rhythm and control of their own life has also found its way to Australian shores.

One of the greatest innovations currently making waves in aged care has been the advent and use of the small household model of care.

This care model focuses on providing residents with individualised complex nursing care in a comfortable and homely environment. While doing its best to hide and phase out the institutional elements of the average nursing home environment.

And Australia is proud to be one of the countries that are beginning to lead a charge in this area.

“It takes the nursing-home industry as we know it and it flips it, creating a very homelike residential model of care. There is no central nursing station and no long corridors as those in a traditional nursing home. Each residence has a multi-skilled versatile caregiver who provides personal care, prepares meals and performs housekeeping for elders.

While it can be easy to look at all of the problems and negativity in aged care, all it takes is one glance in the rear view mirror to realise how far things have come and the actual direction in which we are heading.

And as long as we continue to have people like Dan Levitt who are willing to dedicate their entire lives to the betterment and welfare of the elderly, things should only continue to get better.



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