Community care: Practical advice for local councils

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Australian are getting older, and providing suitable services to them is an increasing task of all levels of government. The new Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP), is designed to build the strength, confidence and independence of older people by emphasising wellness, reablement and restorative care.

The program is intended to help older people live full, happier lives and stay in their homes longer. It is an area local councils have always been involved in, whether formally through the CHSP (formerly the Home and Community Care Program) by co-ordinating or providing services such as nursing, home help, meals on wheels, respite for carers, transport and case management. It also does this in a less structured way, through initiatives such as tai chi, men’s sheds, dementia cafes, healthy eating workshops, seniors’ week events or older person’s advisory committees.

But while many local councils have long adopted such an approach, some find it harder to shift away a model where older clients may have traditionally had things done for them, to a model where service providers do things alongside their clients to foster greater independence – an approach which is now compulsory under the CHSP.

Department of Social Services (DSS) guidelines under the CHSP and a newDSS Good Practice Guide for a Restorative Approach aim to support service providers in this transition.

“It means building on older people’s strengths, capacity and goals to help them remain independent in their daily living tasks and to live safely at home,” the DSS says.

“It is a transition from a model that may have fostered dependence to one that actively promotes independence. This is a culture shift from ‘doing for’ clients to ‘doing with’. For some providers, this represents a significant change from the way entry level services have previously been delivered.”

Help is also at hand at the upcoming Active Ageing Conference 2015, which is being hosted by Australian Ageing Agenda and Community Care Review in October to support organisations in adopting wellness, reablement and restorative care.

The rationale of the conference is to provide extremely practical advice in all of these areas and to explore in depth what the new requirements under CHSP and Consumer Directed Care mean for service providers, using presentations, panel sessions and workshops with plenty of time to ask questions, share ideas and best practice and network with experts and other providers.

Panel discussions include a session on wellness, which will look at ways of enhancing seniors’ physical and emotional wellbeing, from everyday activities and leisure time to using new tools and apps and another panel session on reablement and restorative care, where allied health professionals, researchers and providers will discuss how to implement these interventions and their benefits.

Workshops will cover topics including countering social isolation, making home environments functional, using emerging technologies, case management and budgeting; and active ageing for seniors living with dementia.

There will also be an interactive session on the practicalities of developing these programs and putting them into practice.

Active Ageing Conference, Thursday October 29, Amora Hotel, Sydney.

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