Selwyn Foundation's new approach to residential aged care homes

by Noted / 03 March, 2018

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Brought to you by Selwyn Foundation.

"We never again want to build a care home the way they were built. It's very institutional. Here, it's completely different."

Selwyn Foundation's "care partnership" approach puts residents and health professionals on an equal footing.

The need to look after New Zealand’s ageing population has led to a development boom in residential care –
but the thought of moving into one of these facilities isn’t appealing to everyone. Living in a place with ward-like corridors, a nurse’s station and activities co-ordinators just doesn’t feel like home. As a result, residents often become less interested in their own health, and conditioned to an institutional routine that doesn’t reflect how they want to live.

The Selwyn Foundation’s unique “care partnership” approach is designed to change all that. This new-to-New-Zealand concept features a holistic, “participatory care” model that puts residents on an equal footing with health professionals, and architectural design that makes people truly feel at home, promotes independence and combats loneliness.

Care suites are laid out in “households” designed to function like a home: in each, 12 people have their own room and ensuite, and share a large living room and dining/kitchen area; there’s one large table where residents can share lunch. “Care partners” take care of the day-to-day organisation – co-ordinating activities, showering and dressing people as required, serving meals, cleaning – as well as ensuring each household runs like a family. The wider care centre also houses a cafe, shop, hairdresser and other facilities.

Hilda Johnson-Bogaerts, director of The Selwyn Institute for Ageing and Spirituality at The Selwyn Foundation, championed the new care model. She says the smaller scale creates a flexibility that’s missing in larger facilities.

“People come out for breakfast as they like: there will be porridge in the crockpot, or you can make something for yourself like toast or cereal. In larger places, when you move in, you decide on one food for breakfast and that’s what you get every day.”

Each ensuite has a bidet option “because going to the toilet and needing assistance does not help with dignity”. Electric ceiling hoists in every room allow carers to easily assist less-mobile residents to move around safely, and smart TVs enable people to Skype with family.

“It’s less institutionalised. We’ve always been trained that we’re ‘admitting people into our care’, which is like being in hospital. Most of our residents aren’t unwell, they’re just frail and need support with life,” Johnson-Bogaerts explains.

Each resident works with the care team to decide on a participatory care plan. “We are not empowering people, we assume they’re in charge. The person takes a lot of responsibility over their own life and health. It all sounds normal, but it’s not what’s happening at the moment. Health professionals take over when you move in. Here it
is a partnership.”

She and her team took best-practice ideas from Europe and the US, and developed a model to suit New Zealand standards. Current Selwyn residents helped test ideas, and Johnson-Bogaerts always asked herself, “Would I want to put my mother or father into a place like this?”

The Moxon Centre, the first residence of this kind, opened in Cambridge in December last year. Two more care centres will open in Auckland this year. “We never again want to build a care home the way they were built. It’s very institutional. Here, it’s completely different. This household has a front door, you ring the bell and people let you into the home. The staff aren’t wearing uniforms. It changes the whole dynamic – you feel like you could live there.”

For more information visit selwynfoundation.org.nz or call 0800 4 SELWYN (0800 473 599)

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