Holistic care: A comprehensive approach to well-being in the aged care sector

Last updated on 13 March 2024

The Eden model which shows people the interplay between the 10 Principles and the 7 Domains of the Eden Alternative. [Source: Supplied]

Australia’s aged care system has long been under scrutiny, prompting the Government to continuously reassess and enhance the standards governing the sector. 

Of the more recent reforms that caught everyone’s attention in the sector has been the reduction of The Quality Standards from eight to seven, marking a pivotal shift towards a more focused and structured person-centred approach. This change not only highlights the evolving nature of aged care but also emphasises the urgent need for comprehensive education within the sector to ensure the successful implementation of these Standards.

In 2021, the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety (the Royal Commission) presented its conclusive report, featuring 148 recommendations. In recommendation 19, the Royal Commission called for an immediate evaluation of the Quality Standards, citing concerns about their limitations, lack of precision, and inability to be measured. 

The report highlighted that the current Aged Care Quality Standards fail to define what constitutes quality or high-quality aged care, as they primarily establish the minimal acceptable criteria for accreditation. Furthermore, the existing Standards were criticised for their insufficient comprehensiveness, rigour, and detail.

The report also underscored the importance of revising the Quality Standards with a specific emphasis on addressing diversity and cultural safety, enhancing standards related to food and nutrition, dementia care, palliative care, and other clinical priorities. 

Additionally, the Royal Commission emphasised the need for improvements in provider governance and human resources within the aged care sector.

The decision to reduce the number of Standards from eight to seven is rooted in a desire to streamline the assessment process and bring about greater clarity. The revised Standards prioritise a more concentrated focus on person-centred care, emphasising the individual needs, preferences, and choices of older Australians. The shift recognises the importance of tailoring care to the unique circumstances and backgrounds of each resident, fostering a more empathetic and respectful approach to ageing.

Holistic Care Ideology

Holistic care in aged care services represents a paradigm shift towards a more inclusive and person-centred approach. It is centred around the idea that ageing individuals are not just a collection of symptoms or medical conditions. Instead, it acknowledges the interconnectedness of various aspects of a person’s life, including their mental and emotional states, relationships, cultural background, and personal preferences. This approach aims to improve the overall quality of life by fostering a sense of purpose, dignity, and autonomy.

“A key ingredient in your journey to an inclusive, productive community, is education.  Education that is for staff, clients and volunteers. Our face-to-face education enables organisations and their staff to meet the current and new strengthened aged care standards in Australia through a person centred care lens,” says Sally Hopkins, Executive Director at Eden In Oz & NZ.

A person-centred approach in aged care places the older individual at the heart of decision-making processes, acknowledging their right to autonomy, dignity, and respect. By adopting this approach, aged care providers can better understand and meet the diverse needs of residents, resulting in improved overall well-being. The shift from eight to seven Standards signals a commitment to fostering a culture of empathy and understanding, creating a more holistic and responsive aged care system.

The Eden Alternative

The Eden Alternative® stands out as a global non-profit organisation that significantly impacts the realms of ageing, community, and disability services. Central to the Eden Alternative philosophy is the assertion that, regardless of our position on the continuum, ageing should be viewed as an ongoing phase of development and growth, rather than a period of decline. In alignment with this transformative paradigm, the person-directed approach emphasises that care and support are not unidirectional but, instead, form a collaborative partnership. Eliminating loneliness is a key focus.

This innovative approach to care seeks to address the entirety of an individual, acknowledging their holistic needs and affirming their right to a life brimming with purpose, connection, empowerment, and possibilities, irrespective of their age or evolving abilities. 

“The Eden Alternative enables organisations to strengthen their own compliance requirements and to retain and attract staff. We have the tools and teach the implementation of a reablement approach to wellbeing for all,” says Hopkins.

This unique initiative goes beyond the conventional models by fostering a dynamic perspective on ageing, promoting the idea that each person deserves a life enriched with meaningful experiences and opportunities for growth.

The essence of the Eden Alternative lies in the belief that the transformation of care culture occurs gradually, unfolding through individual relationships. To instigate profound change, the entire continuum of care needs to be actively engaged. Integrating the 10 Principles into the fabric of an organisation or home initiates the process of eradicating the pervasive plagues of loneliness, helplessness, and boredom.

Loneliness and social isolation often lead individuals to relinquish the will to live, a phenomenon observed in various settings, be it within the community, one’s own home, or a residential care environment. Many practices in these environments strip individuals of the opportunity to contribute to care, fostering a sense of helplessness and diminishing their sense of purpose and will to live.

Residential care and community practices often deprive people of the chance to extend care to others, resulting in a pervasive sense of helplessness. Engaging in programs and activities, while commendable, can lead to a sense of monotony or lack of control, contributing to boredom in the lives of those under our care and support. The philosophy of Eden addresses these challenges, offering a powerful model that cultivates meaningful relationships and enhances the well-being of individuals with varying abilities.

By challenging institutional control and embracing a community-centric approach, the Eden Alternative aims to create a more enriching environment for care. Research indicates that this shift leads to improved quality of care and heightened satisfaction for all involved, thereby also delivering financial benefits to the organisation. 

In essence, the Eden philosophy propels a paradigm shift in care, fostering meaningful connections and improving the overall quality of life for those receiving and providing care alike.

For more information please visit https://edeninoznz.com.au/

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