Published on January 9, 2024

Creating Compassion in Aged Care: How to Place Seniors First

Compassion is crucial in most industries, but particularly when it comes to our elderly population. Person-centred care places seniors first in aged care, fostering an environment that addresses and embraces their physical, emotional and psychological well-being. Acknowledging the necessity of this approach, and the support for seniors’ independence, will help shape the future of aged care into one with a positive impact.

That’s why this blog post will delve into the key means of creating compassion in aged care and why they’re so necessary. It will also offer practical insights on prioritising seniors’ needs to create a sustainable future.

Understanding the Challenges

Before we can begin highlighting the solutions that put seniors first in aged care, we must first acknowledge the challenges they need to overcome. Namely, the trend of elderly individuals often experiencing loneliness, isolation, and a loss of independence when transferring into assisted living. 

On top of this, many seniors enter aged care facilities due to physical or mental health issues, making these challenges more prominent. Thus, a compassionate and holistic approach is required by carers and facility members alike to ensure all seniors are getting the best life possible. Not just for the medical aspects of their care, but also the emotional and social dimensions of ageing.

Person-Centred Care

One of the more foundational means of placing seniors first in aged care is by utilising a person-centred approach. This model of care emphasises the need for carers to understand each individual’s unique needs, preferences and history. Not only does this foster a sense of autonomy and dignity, but also places compassion front and centre to allow seniors to feel respected and valued.

Person-centred care in a facility does not just have to be about connecting with a senior on a personal level. It can also be about modifying their space to fit into their unique needs, especially if they require aid for mobility or everyday tasks. Modifications for ageing in place can just be as useful in an aged care facility, such as installing handrails in bathrooms for those who needs the support.

For those with disabilities, such as those under the NDIS, it’s essential to extend this approach to encompass accessibility features and consider NDIS exercise physiology services. Integrating tailored exercise programs and activities can enhance not only emotional well-being but also the physical health of residents with disabilities during their stay.

Establishing Meaningful Connections

Compassion in aged care means alleviating seniors of their concerns, of which loneliness is a particularly prevalent one. Thus, carers should focus on helping them to establish meaningful connections with others and the world around them to combat it. 

Aged care facilities and their staff should regularly incorporate events or chances for seniors to create social connections. This could be with other seniors within the facility, but also with the broader community outside of it. Common social activities for seniors include group outings, hobby clubs and game nights, all offering the opportunity to foster a sense of belonging and reduce feelings of isolation.

Training and Empowering Caregivers

To help ensure all carers in an aged care facility are creating a compassionate environment for seniors, comprehensive training is required. This helps to empower caregivers who are not only skilled in providing medical care but also empathetic and understanding. 

While medical practice is integral for the daily care of facility inhabitants, it is the emotional intelligence, effective communication, and active listening trained in caregivers that allows them to connect with seniors on a deeper level. When carers feel a genuine connection to their work, it positively impacts the quality of care they provide. Thus, leaving the seniors feeling content and supported in their new life within aged care, whether that is through their physical or mental health.

Promoting Flexibility in Care Plans

No person is the same, and this can also be said for seniors and their needs. Carers must adjust their approach to care for each individual living at their facility to ensure that all seniors are living a fulfilling and healthy life. 

For example, while some residents only require minimal oversight to ensure their well-being, others require more hands-on and comforting forms of care. Palliative care calls for carers to be flexible with their daily responsibilities of care as palliative residents may require additional aid on certain days or activities. You can learn more about palliative care here.

Flexible care plans can be adapted to meet individual requirements, such as medical routines, meal plans, and recreational activities. This grants seniors a sense of control over their lives and empowers them to actively make choices about their care. Carers thus offer compassion to reinforce seniors’ autonomy and create a supportive environment for all to enjoy.

Incorporating Technology Thoughtfully

The quality of care in aged care facilities can also be significantly enhanced with the integration of technology. Whether it is in the form of telehealth services that connect seniors with healthcare professionals, or mobility aids around their living space, technology can address both physical and mental needs.

While not innately compassionate, the way technological aid is implemented for each elderly individual can provide space for thoughtfulness. Particularly in the way that technology can complement the compassion of human care, rather than replace it.

Creating Homelike Environments

In order to welcome seniors and facilitate a sense of belonging upon entering aged care facilities, a homelike environment should be created. This includes aspects like personalised spaces, comfortable furnishings, and familiar decor from their previous homes. Including these familiar and comforting features throughout an aged care facility can help improve seniors’ emotional well-being and allow them to relax in their new home. Furthermore, involving seniors in the decision-making process of their living spaces can foster a strong sense of control and ownership that brings confidence to their lives.

Conclusion

Placing seniors first in aged care involves a holistic approach that goes beyond addressing physical health needs. By adopting person-centred care, fostering meaningful connections, and empowering caregivers, we can create environments that prioritize the well-being of our elderly population. Recognizing the unique qualities and experiences of each senior, and tailoring care plans accordingly, is at the heart of building a compassionate and supportive aged care system. Through thoughtful implementation of these strategies, we can ensure that our seniors not only receive the care they need but also experience a fulfilling and dignified life in their later years.


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