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Care worker-led exercise program embeds wellness in home support

An innovative wellness program piloted in the Commonwealth Home Support Program is delivering positive results for both clients and staff.

The Active@Home program is an 18-week strength and balance in-home exercise program that uses personal care workers as exercise facilitators and motivators to improve functional outcomes for clients.

The model piloted by a consortium of 14 CHSP providers led by Brisbane North PHN embedded exercise into regular scheduled visits with consumers.

Michele Smith, manager of the Brisbane North PHN community care program, said a recently completed evaluation of the pilot showed a 20 per cent increase in the functional performance of clients, as well as positive benefits for staff satisfaction.

Some clients reduced their level of disability and were more engaged in tasks around the home after completing the program, she said.

The pilot demonstrated how a wellness model could be implemented in the CHSP, which is becoming a more explicit aim and focus of the government’s home support program, said Ms Smith.

“The model is taking a workforce that has that trusted relationship and frequent interaction with clients and designing a program that is easy for them to implement, while still being under the supervision of allied health professionals,” Ms Smith tells Community Care Review ahead of her presentation at the Active Ageing Conference 2017 this month.

By utilising personal care workers in the day-to-day delivery of the exercise program, there were also benefits for the cost effectiveness and sustainability of the program, she said.

As part of the pilot, personal care workers were trained to support clients to complete simple, validated strengthening and balance exercises in the home, as well as motivating clients to keep up the regular exercise.

Ms Smith said many care workers embraced their broadened job roles. The personal care workers said their involvement in the program gave them a greater sense of value and strengthened their relationship with clients, she said.

Brisbane North PHN worked with exercise gerontologist Dr Tim Henwood and community care provider Burnie Brae to design the model and resources targeted specifically to CHSP clients.

Ms Smith said she hoped the pilot’s positive outcomes would see the program rolled out more widely to other community care organisations.

The outcomes report is due for release in the coming weeks, she said.

Michele Smith will present the pilot’s findings at the Active Ageing Conference 2017 in Melbourne on 30 August.

The Active Ageing Conference is hosted by Community Care Review and Australian Ageing Agenda.

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One Response to Care worker-led exercise program embeds wellness in home support

  1. Sue Hendy August 9, 2017 at 1:24 pm #

    Great to see restorative care being implemented. IFA held a symposium in 2016 with Dr John Beard, Who and others talking on the need. I don’t disagree with the outcomes or the need, but Dr Maria Fiotarone Singh, Dr Miriam Nelson and Eric Rosario might disagree with it being innovative. This work was being researched over two decades ago and implemented in Victoria with Living Longer Living Stronger(TM) by COTA Vic, partnering with organisations such as Nathalie Nursing Home and Uniting Age Well, to deliver in care settings, and research by NARI in a number of settings. Also Silver Chain in WA have been implementing a range of models in-home and in-care.

    None the less, strength to all our arms to have this as a normal part of life as we age, irrespective of where we live.

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