Pilot raises village care to new levels

A pilot program being trialled until July this year is focused on “adding life to years” by improving residents’ village experiences.

RetireAustralia care

RetireAustralia’s General Manager for Care, Brigid London, said the pilot is offering new services in five villages.

“Life events or the natural ageing process shouldn’t mean residents have to leave their home in the village,” she said.

“Many people come into the village completely independent and enjoy the lifestyle aspects of the village.

“Over time, as their needs increase, it’s important to have services in place to fill any gaps that emerge, thus allowing residents to get on and enjoy everything else they can still do.”

Brigid said the program helped to address the risk of isolation that can occur as people become frail and elderly.

“What this care plan is helping us to say is: ‘Come and live with us for as long as you want, and if or when you need services to help you, we’ll be able to provide these for you’.

“None of us can add more years to our life, but our aim is to add more life to your years.”

The program offers a range of services, including a village concierge who can book appointments and help answer queries, and a full-time activities coordinator.

“The coordinator role adds greater vibrancy to the villages, working with residents to ensure the range of activities, outings and social events that they’d like to see happen are organised and planned.”

The activities coordinator also has a welfare element to their role, and can pop in to see residents if needed, particularly if they are just home from hospital and may need a meal organised.

Two important elements of the care program are wellness clinics and increased services to serviced apartments. Wellness clinics are being run in the four Central Coast villages in New South Wales and in Lincoln Grove in South Australia, with increased care in serviced apartments being trialled at Tarragal Glen and Lincoln Grove.

Run by a registered nurse, the wellness clinic is available to all Central Coast residents on a weekly basis and is held monthly at Lincoln Grove.

Central Coast care coordinator and registered nurse Shirley Leech said her role was to be a trusted support and encouragement to residents to take care of their health.

“I hold each clinic on a morning and afternoon over two days, and offer wellness services to all of the residents for things like health advice, information, blood pressure, blood glucose monitoring, health assessment, and support to self-manage chronic diseases,” she said.

Shirley said she referred patients as needed, including to allied health specialists such as physiotherapists and podiatrists who visit the clinics.

Brigid said the final arm of the care pilot—increasing services to people living in serviced apartments—was a significant change to offer 24/7 higher care options including helping to manage continence and transport around the village.

“Now our residents can enjoy increasing levels of care delivered to their apartments so they can go on and enjoy the other things they do in their village.”

The care plan will be reviewed and then rolled out in metropolitan and regional New South Wales. By 2020, the care plan will be available Australia-wide.

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