Rethinking Aging and Aged Care Delivery

By: Dan Levitt, Executive Director, Tabor Home Society

The aged care industry in Australia, and globally, is changing, with seniors living longer and preferring to stay within their communities and support groups through ‘aging in place.’

To meet these changing attitudes and dynamics Tabor Home Society, located in British Columbia, Canada, is challenging societal attitudes towards aging by abolishing the ‘nursing home grandma lives in’ stereotype and adopting new approaches to aged and assisted living.    

Dan Levitt, Executive Director at Tabor Home Society is an elder care leader, writer, and gerontologist and specialises in helping others to create better lives for seniors. Ahead of the Aged Care Summit at Australian Healthcare Week 2019, Dan explores the shifting attitudes towards aged care and explore Tabor Home Society’s innovative new approaches to senior residential living.   

Responding to changing global trends in aged care

Aged care is evolving to reflect the changing expectations of seniors who are increasingly not accepting the traditional nursing home that ‘grandma lived in.’ 

The global trend is for small homes where a group of seniors live together supported by multi-skilled caregivers that foster independence and quality of life. The aged care sector is heavily reliant on real estate, and is already and will continue to require innovative approaches to raising capital and reinventing care through new housing options that drive toward community based programs and services. 

The new Tabor Village campus of care is built around these trends with a seniors community centre that inspires, unleashes creativity, promotes health and well being, forges friendships and enables seniors to give back. 

The centre will offer a myriad of activities, allowing our customer to learn new skills and keeping active in mind and body. Tabor Village will be a hub for not just older adults, but for adults of all ages and children too, for whom it will be a centre for life. 

Creating a new approach to aged care service delivery

The future will see only the frailest, sickest seniors in residential care and the vast majority of seniors will live independently or in assisted living settings supported by community based services. To offer these services effectively and cater to market needs, expectations and changing dynamics, we need to rework our traditional models of care

The traditional nursing home was built as a stand alone facility and was architecturally designed with the look and feel of an acute care hospital. The new approach to aged care however has much more in common with a home. 

Relationship based living environments that focus on hospitality and customer service will become the new normal. The sector will be aligning itself not with the hospital model, but with the hotel approach, and ultimately adding value to a life worth living. 

Additionally, the face of long-term care is changing, with lengths of stays decreasing and acuity levels rising as more complexity arises with multiple chronic. A palliative care lens will dramatically change the experience for seniors with advance dementia and their family’s journey as caregivers. 

Reworking models of care to benefit both residents and providers

Quite simply, ‘no margin, no mission.’ The shifting sands in aged care, while gradually embraced by some organisations, will eventually over take the old outdated models of care. Those not willing to innovate will find that the tide has risen beyond their ability to jump into the new aged care economy. 

The game changer for us is sourcing out innovative approaches that create a better quality of life for seniors, while improving work life for caregivers – which is a tightrope walk at best!  

However a necessity in this changing times to introduce the latest technology that improves safety and streamlines work processes having a positive impact on the Triple Aim: better care, improved quality and lower costs.

Overcoming challenges associated with a shift in culture 

Changing a culture is no easy task. There will always be status quo protectors who care more about the past then the future and who will hold onto antiquated procedures that make sense to those who are benefiting from current order - which usually are not the recipients of care services. 

A quality improvement change culture is started by asking tough questions and believing that transforming lives takes a commitment to excellence in every aspect of delivering best in class programs and services. Once the train leaves, there is no turning back to the old way - hello tomorrow! 

The future outlook for Tabor Home Society

As the baby boomer cohort enter their senior years a revolutionary change will take place, reimaging the aging experience. Delivering aged care will be centred around a hub of multigenerational community life that includes housing where older adults age in place and services are a short walk away on the senior’s campus of care. 

Technology will enable seniors to remain independent longer with sensors and wearables, connected to the aged care setting. But perhaps, one day, seniors will no longer have to live in the traditional nursing home that grandma lived in which will become a museum. Seniors will be valued members of society contributing well into their nineties. Those that need aged care will experience ‘a life worth living’ as is the new normal we’re developing here at Tabor Home Society.