What does ‘resident-centred’ care really mean in aged care?

The phrase ‘resident-centred care’ is often used in the Australian aged care sector. But what does it actually mean?

In its simplest form, resident-centered care describes a care model that invites, accommodates, and respects residents’ wishes in health care and lifestyle decisions within the care routine prescribed by their clinical team.

SummitCare has ten residential aged care homes, nine across Sydney and one in Wallsend, Newcastle. Since opening its doors more than 50 years ago, SummitCare has focused on the individual needs of thousands of people they’ve cared for.

SummitCare Chief Operating Officer, Michelle Sloane, says that the group’s resident-care focus is designed around a range of key themes.

“First and foremost, it’s personalised. Our team is attuned to residents’ strengths and weaknesses, not simply their limitations,” she says.

“When it’s appropriate, we also involve our residents in choosing things like what and when they’d like to eat, what they’d like to wear, when they get up in the morning and go to bed at night.

“Resident-centred care also takes a holistic approach as it is designed to enhance all dimensions of a resident’s health and well-being, from physical health to intellect, creativity, spirituality, and more.

“This all-encompassing perspective views seniors as individuals, which in turn enhances their quality of life.”

Done well, resident-centred care is an empowering practice. Individual care plans maintain the seniors’ right to determine how their needs should be met, and does so in a nurturing and respectful environment. This reassures the people cared for won’t have their ‘personhood’ diminished even if they might need some assistance with daily living activities.

SummitCare residents participate in a range of activities, designed by staff and experts in aged care, gerontology and dementia for them to enjoy as and when they choose. Residents are also encouraged to suggest extra programs that staff are happy to develop for them.

For example, a resident in their Penrith home recently suggested they have a movie theatre which was then built. Everyone celebrated with an opening night complete with wine, beer and popcorn. And, a resident at Smithfield was not sure what gifts to give her granddaughters so was helped to make some handed beaded bracelets and beautifully wrap them.

“We recently had a home-wide poetry competition, inspiring residents to write about their experience at SummitCare or their favourite staff member. It was so much fun! Winners received beauty bags and shaver kits from the Body Shop,” says Michelle.

Other activities include regular shuffle board games at SummitCare Canley Vale that assists with physiotherapy and re-ablements programs, seasonal menu tasting where residents are invited to taste dishes and complete a survey on new dining suggestions.

Resident-centred care is widely recognised as an important foundation of safe, high-quality care for older people.

Not only is it respectful of, and responsive to, the preferences, needs and values of the individual patient, clinical evidence suggests that it can lead to improvements in resident and staff satisfaction.

“Partnering with our residents and their families recognises the value of their voice,” adds Michelle. “Resident-centred care leads to better-shared decisions about how we operate our homes and programs but, most importantly, provides a better quality of life for our residents.”

For more information on our individual homes, visit our Homes page.
What does ‘resident-centred’ care really mean in aged care?