Can reablement assist people to stay in their own home longer?

The Federal Government has announced a $29.2 million reablement trial to establish the best supports for maintaining mobility and independence to help people stay in their own homes for longer.

But what does reablement mean in the home care context and how can it assist seniors to remain living at home?

According to the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) Good Practice Guide, reablement assists people to regain functional capacity and improve independence. Similar to rehabilitation, it is goal-oriented and aims at full recovery where possible – it seeks to enable people to live their lives to the fullest.

The current state of reablement programs

The reablement approach, which is currently being used in Western Australia and Victoria, will be trialled by five Regional Assessment Service (RAS) organisations which assess clients applying for services under the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP).

In January 2017, the Department of Health engaged Nous Group to conduct a review of wellness and reablement approaches within the home care sector.

The review included 1,200 participants across in-person, online and phone consultations nationwide to look at examples of this approach and how it’s currently being applied.

The key finding was that while there are some great examples of reablement being used successfully across the country, the approaches aren’t currently deeply embedded or consistently applied across the home care sector.

How will the reablement trial be rolled out?

The Government’s trial will be aiming to change this. In the trial, service providers, senior Australians, their families and carers will be encouraged to think about ways to improve self-sufficiency and autonomy and set some goals around this.

All participants in the trial regions will receive an ‘active assessment’ and most will be expected to complete a reablement program lasting six to eight weeks, during which they will be assessed and coached to achieve their capability goals.

They may also receive time-limited, specialised CHSP services including greater access to basic aids, equipment and assistive technologies before being referred for ongoing CHSP services.

Reablement examples

With its focus on improving functional capacity, the key goal of reablement focuses is to improve an individual’s quality of life. Some examples of reablement include:

  • Someone who loves gardening who is finding it increasingly difficult due to knee problems. This can impact their enjoyment of life and ability to stay active doing something they enjoy. Reablement would focus on an allied health program to help the person to strengthen and support their knees to get them back into the garden.
  • Support for a carer to help relieve stress on the relationship due to caring responsibilities. This could include domestic support or day respite.
  • Exercise programs to help seniors improve their health, wellbeing and strength.
  • Social activities to help people remain connected to the community and doing the activities they love.
  • Community groups designed to encourage social connections and reduce isolation and loneliness.

 An independent evaluation of the trial will be undertaken, with the results to help shape the future of Australian ageing and aged care.

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