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New trial to help older Australians stay mobile and independent

A new trial announced by the Australian Government will aim to enable older Australians to remain mobile, independent and living in the comfort of their own homes.

The $29.2 million initiative will establish the best supports for maintaining mobility and independence from now until June 2020 [Source: Shutterstock]
The $29.2 million initiative will establish the best supports for maintaining mobility and independence from now until June 2020 [Source: Shutterstock]

The $29.2 million initiative will establish the best supports for maintaining mobility and independence from now until June 2020.

Five Regional Assessment Service (RAS) organisations, Aspire4Life, APM Assessment Services, Care Assess, NSW Health Administration Corporation and Resthaven will deliver the trial in Tasmania, the Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia.

Based on an approach used in Western Australia and Victoria, the ‘reablement model’ will assess older Australians applying for the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP).

Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Ken Wyatt says this project is a fundamental part of the Government’s More Choices For A Longer Life measures to promote better ageing.

“Research shows that focusing on an individual’s strengths and goals helps sustain their independence and can reduce and delay the need for more complex support, including residential care.”

All participants will receive an ‘active assessment’ and are then expected to complete a six to eight-week program where they will be assessed and coached on achieving their capability goals.

Participants may also enjoy greater access to basic aids, equipment and assistive technology before being referred to ongoing CHSP services.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of National Seniors Professor John McCallum says the organisation is a strong supporter of reablement and allowing people to live at home as long as possible.

“We welcome the trial and made significant points in support of this in our Royal Commission Witness Statement.

“In particular, we stated that care at home is the future of aged care and generally regarded very positively by older Australians.

“Good providers are already doing this within the Consumer Directed Care options and anything that spreads this more widely is very welcome.”

He says older people should be allowed to make the choices they want when it comes to ageing in Australia.

“There should be no compulsion to go into residential care unless it is needed.

“Understandably ‘comfort’ can be best achieved at home and with family.

“Any initiative that enables this is needed to move home care in the right direction,” Professor McCallum says.

Chief Executive of Aged Rights Advocacy Service (ARAS) Carolanne Barkla also welcomes the trial.

“Older people overwhelmingly identify that they want to remain in their own homes.

“By providing targeted support to improve self-sufficiency and autonomy via a targeted reablement program this may be achieved.

 She says the trial should inform future funding initiatives.

CEO of Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA), Pat Sparrows says trials such as these are really important.

“This kind of program can be very effective at keeping people in their own homes longer.

“It also gives much greater independence and control which is what we all want.”

Ms Sparrow says independence in older Australians is a win for both the aged care system and individuals and hopes the trial offers some valuable insights into the lives of older Australians.

“It’s important to keep older Australians mobile because that has flow on to health, wellbeing and independence.

“We want to see a commitment to implement the lessons from the trial and roll it out.”

 Additional Government funding of up to $5 million will support CHSP service providers in the trial sites as they manage the expected increase in consumer demand.

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