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The one trend that’s emerging from global aged care models

Senior couple riding a classic scooter

Recently, Mable was recognised by Westpac as an Aged Care Industry trailblazer in their Smart Industry 2030 Healthcare Report. Focusing on how the aged care industry is adapting for the future, the report also examined how governments and industry around the world are responding to the challenges of our ageing population. As different approaches are created, one common thread appears to be emerging.

When it comes to aged care, there’s a lot to be learned from looking outward to other countries. Creative models for supporting older members of the community are popping up in Asia, Europe and America, with one key identifiable trend; a desire for ageing citizens to live independently in their homes, with a strong connection to community support. We take a look at three countries which are leading the charge.

Japan’s postal service, servicing the older residents

Japan is home to the world’s oldest population, as well as Okinawa, one of the seven ‘Blue Zones’ – global hot-spots for longevity. As well as an income tax for those over 40, which funds a long-term care insurance for those over 65, state-owned Japan Post employees can visit and check in on the elderly on behalf of family. The postal service has also distributed iPads to enable older people to order items from local stores, which are delivered by postal workers.

The Netherlands’ innovative approaches to retirement villages

The Netherlands is a hub of aged care innovation, with a number of new approaches emerging from the country. It’s home to Hogewyk, one of the world’s first ‘dementia villages.’ The village offers residents with advanced dementia a sense of autonomy via a setting that emulates a regular community, complete with a supermarket, its own currency and social events like pub bingo.

Humanitas is a long-term aged care facility also in Holland that gives university students the opportunity to stay in vacant rooms in exchange for 30 hours of volunteer work per month. It’s a solution that serves two needs; addressing an affordable student housing shortage as well as fiscal challenges facing aged care facilities. For residents, the students represent a vital connection to the outside world through simple daily social interactions as well as lessons in technology and even graffiti art. Since the site’s opening, similar facilities have opened in other parts of the country, with France following suit.

As reported by The Guardian, Buurtzorg Nederland is an innovative homecare model which has attracted praise from the World Health Organisation for reducing healthcare costs by about 40%. The brainchild of nurse Jos de Blok, the system deploys teams of up to 12 nurses, who are responsible for between 40 and 60 people within a particular area. The nurse acts as a “health coach” for individuals, emphasising preventive health measures and providing or coordinating necessary care. Importantly, the teams are entrepreneurial in spirit and largely free from management control.

The USA’s ‘Naturally Occurring Residential Villages’

CityLab reported in 2015 that the concept of ‘Naturally Occurring Residential villages’ had already spread to 40 states across the USA. The concept was pioneered by 65 year old Bostonian Susan McWhinney-Morse who founded Beacon Hill Village, a collective of like-minded independent seniors who banded together to support one another. Members of the ‘village’ (which is not comprised of any actual property), pay a yearly fee for staff who help them get the services they need. Discounted membership is provided for those with low income and the group is assisted to access a range of services like drivers, cleaners, and handymen. More than anything however, the village provides members with a ready-made community and companionship.`

Also hailing from the US, longevity expert Dr Bill Thomas advocates for the integration of older citizens into society. He proposes a MAGIC way of living (Multi-Ability, multiGenerational, Inclusive Communities) and has created an accommodation solution called ‘Minka’ which enables older people to live in small houses where the built environment supports independence. The houses would be built within existing communities to maximise opportunities for connections, utilizing spaces that are deemed too small for regular urban residential developments.

Mable connecting communities across Australia

Here in Australia, Mable is redefining aged care as well as disability support, one connection at a time. It’s an online platform that provides users with access to independent support workers, nurses, allied health professionals as well as everyday people offering social support within their local community. It’s helping ageing Australians to not only stay connected to their community, but look to those communities to find the support they need to remain independent.

Search the profiles of independent support workers today to see who’s offering services in your local area.


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