Supporting independence in care

The simple act of washing your own clothes or making your own breakfast can be enough to boost feelings of self worth and satisfaction in aged care residents.

That’s according to Rosetta Community, Strathglen, Care Manager Tracy Harvison, who is committed to doing whatever she can to support residents who want to remain independent. 

“This is their home and whatever they’re capable of doing we want to allow them to do,” she said.

“These are things they would do every day at home and they may feel disempowered if these things are taken away from them.

“We want to help them maintain their independence as long as they can.”

Residents across the facility are invited to order breakfast from a wide selection each morning, or come down to the home-style kitchen and make it for themselves.

They can cook their own toast, butter it, serve their own cereal, pour a glass of juice or make a coffee, all with the support of Strathglen staff.

The breakfast program is hugely popular among residents, staff and families.

Regaining control of an otherwise mundane household chore has also meant the world to a handful of women.

“We noticed that a lot of the women were rinsing their underwear in the sink and hanging them over the rails in their bathrooms,” Tracy said.

“They just didn’t feel comfortable with strangers washing their underwear.”

Keen to allow the women their privacy and independence, Tracy arranged clothes horses for several of the women’s rooms and installed a washing machine for the residents to use.

One resident, Pat Clark, used to wash all of her and her husband’s clothes in the hand basin of her bathroom, so she was rapt when she was given access to the washing machine.

“When it mounts up, I carry the laundry in my own washing basket, and use my own washing powder to do the clothes,” she said.

“I just didn’t want to be idle and I’m still quite capable of carrying the basket.”

After running a household for her entire adult life, raising three children and caring for her grandchildren when they came along, it was only natural for Pat to continue to do the washing when she moved into care.

Tracy said her team would continue to foster independence in aged care and create opportunities for residents to make choices.