17 Oct 2014

New elderly care approach urged

1:09 pm on 17 October 2014

A visiting researcher into the care of older adults, including those with dementia, says a new approach is needed.

A visiting United States-based scholar who focuses on end-of-life care, Davina Porock has told aged-care providers in Wellington that rest-homes are too clinical.

Davina Porock from the University of Buffalo in the United States, was the keynote presenter at the annual conference of the Aged Care Association in Wellington this week.

She said a bio-medical approach to the care of those with dementia, combined with stigmas attached to ageing and dementia, result in care that fails to see people as individuals and to meet their individual needs.

"There's still a lot of places who run nursing home, resthome facilities as if they were mini-hospitals, where there's routineised care, or slightly hotel-like where breakfast is served from seven until 10, but if you want to sleep in and have a piece of toast at 11, you just have to wait for lunch."

She also singled out the Elizabeth Knox Home and Hospital in Epsom as one that is already using a different, person-centred approach.

Its chief executive, Jill Woodward, says it involves staff getting to know residents.

"We need to find out what is important to each person so that they aren't trapped in doing any meaningless activity, why do people sit there falling asleep during the day?

Because they haven't the opportunity to do the things that have meaning for them, or there's no one to talk with."

Aged Care Association chief executive Martin Taylor agreed but said any move to change will confront long-standing approaches.

"The clinical delivery model is about reducing risk and the thing is you can reduce risk, but it also reduces quality of life, and that's one of the problems we'll be facing when we promote this."

"You know where people are saying you may have an increased risk of falls, well we may have increased risk of falls, but boy you have a better quality of life."

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