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Incremental improvements to aged care ‘no longer enough’

Incremental improvements to aged care ‘no longer enough’

Given the tidal wave of Australians set to enter their golden years, a “radical rethink” of aged care models is in order, a residential care community has urged.

NewDirection Care, which has launched a new aged care town catering to seniors with complex care needs, has called for an overhaul of Australia’s aged care model.

“Having worked in the aged care industry for two decades I realised that incremental improvements are no longer enough,” founder and chief executive Natasha Chadwick said.

“We need to radically rethink how we look after the elderly and those living with dementia. The current traditional aged care model is no longer relevant in the world we live in today.”

The village, NewDirection Care Bellmere, is pitched as an alternative model of full-service aged care with focuses on independence, ablement and needs.

Ms Chadwick has a history in aged care, having established this alternative model in 2014, with two houses built in Wynyard, Tasmania.

The difference between these aged care models and traditional homes is that they operate similar to micro-towns; Bellmere features a corner store, café, cinema, hair salon, barber shop and wellness centre, which includes a gym, spa, dental and GP facilities.

But residents are supported by house companions who are multi skilled and take care of medication administration, laundry, cleaning, nutrition and personal care. The companions are in turn supported by registered nurses, dementia support services and physiotherapists, among others.

NewDirection Care said the micro-town was potentially the way more burgeoning aged care facilities would go, pointing to an Aged Care Financing Authority report stating the residential aged care sector will need to build 83,500 new homes by 2025. That’s an investment of $35 billion.

To Ms Chadwick, however, the decision to establish Bellmere and its sister test-site in Tasmania was a matter of providing a service that reimagined care for older Australians.

She said, “I set about changing the beliefs, attitudes and opinions of the industry by creating a system that operated around intrinsic human values, encouraging inclusiveness and driving empathy, all while still being viable as a business.

“We needed to create a system that revolves around the things that really matter in life.”

Incremental improvements to aged care ‘no longer enough’
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