Inspired Care: Bringing Action Pact’s Household Model® to Australia

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Megan Hannan – ActionPact

In this era of globalization, Pioneer Network’s goal to “change the culture of aging” requires sharing and learning across countries and continents. Since hearing about Action Pact’s Household Model® in 2007, Australia’s largest nonprofit provider of community and residential aging services — Uniting, located throughout the state of New South Wales (NSW) — has embarked on a deep organizational shift toward households.

Steve Teulan, Director, has relentlessly grown the shared vision that is fueling an intriguing journey for Uniting in its endeavor to support community members at all stages of life with services ranging from early education and foster care to skilled nursing homes, to name a few.

Their way is guided by the “Inspired Care” approach that recognizes each person as unique with his/her own history, culture, aspirations, and strengths. Over the last three years, this philosophy has evolved into new practice, expanded knowledge, and yielded promising results verified by data and experience.

Uniting has followed a meandering path toward creating home. Initially a diverse team of onsite and regional managers and corporate directors visited the U.S. to participate in Action Pact’s Choreography of Culture Change Intensive. They toured a variety of household model and person-centered dementia service organizations. They talked; they planned.

Back in Australia, the team shared what they had learned. They posted photos and started conversations. At the home office a lead team of coaching and organizational change experts was created to foster Inspired Care, and to mentor on-the-ground teams at the various service sites.

Regional and local leadership representing all 70 Uniting communities across the state,  have participated in multiple Action Pact sessions during the past two years. Six communities are in the first phase of intensive transformation with renovations, on-site training, and organizational redesign.

Before the Action Pact sessions, m any had never interacted beyond their own Uniting community to share ideas and resources within their organization. Now they’ve begun an organization-wide High Involvement process necessary to sustain deep change. The initial lead team provided a model and tools to help local site leaders highly involve their residents, team members, and families.

Change began to happen. Creative leaders engaged residents in deciding all kinds of things. Dining leaders started to explore options for point-of-service choice. They also conducted several Food Mood events that brought together diverse (often non-culinary) experts to explore various approaches to planning and establishing “out of the square” systems that provide more food choices in a home environment.

Inspired Care the philosophy was now moving into Inspire Care the practice. Following is a short description of an outcome at Robert’s Lodge after they instigated a much different breakfast offering:

Karyn Archer, the Manager at Roberts Lodge, has been experimenting with an extended meal service at breakfast time. She has adapted her dining area to suit the provision of buffet style meals in a very simple and effective way that complies with all food safety regulations and provides a large range of options from which to choose. Walking into the dining room the aroma of freshly made toast is present.  The atmosphere is calm and there is the gentle hum of activity as residents come and go at their leisure. Conversation is flowing at the tables and residents are relaxing over their meal, there is no rushing to finish before plates are cleared.  At 9 o’clock when we walk out there are still residents who have yet to rise and come down for breakfast. Others are having second helpings.

Staff serve residents who cannot or do not wish to serve themselves, while others are happy to get their own. Karyn pointed out a resident who had been against the idea at the outset but was now collecting prunes and juices for her table while another resident had taken on the responsibility of making the toast for everyone at the same table. Naysayers are being converted.

PersonFirst® Trainer Training
The second phase for engendering new knowledge and practice was to implement Action Pact’s PersonFirst® Trainer Training and create PersonFirst® Teams. This process includes learning, practicing Community Circles, and action planning to enable the PersonFirst® Teams to foster learning and new practice at their sites.

Uniting shares such stories of practice change and outcome continuously through an online communication and project management site. Pioneer Network endeavors to do this, as well.