Allied health services in residential aged care facilities
1 July 2021 to current
In 2021, North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN) commissioned a new program to deliver allied health services into residential aged care homes (RACHs). It was funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care, and aimed to support RACHs in our region which were heavily impacted in 2020 by COVID-19 outbreaks and stay-at-home restrictions. During this period, residents were largely restricted to their rooms. Access to the outside world and normal exercise was not possible.
The program continued into 2023 and extended to all RACHs in the NWMPHN region. That year, 83 RACHs in our region chose to participate, with 20 per cent of these doing so for the first time.
The current commissioned providers (see below) deliver group therapy sessions based on the Sunbeam Program, which has been proven effective in preventing falls in older adults. Group therapy sessions run twice a week for up to 6 months, with up to 4 residents per session.
As part of the program’s evaluation, allied health providers are required to take measurements at set intervals to monitor progress.
This commissioned activity aims to improve the physical functioning of residents of RACHs in our region. This is achieved through the implementation of an intensive group therapy program delivered by allied health professionals and based on the Sunbeam Program.
There are additional expected outcomes for the many stakeholders involved. These are:
For RACH residents:
• increased access to allied health services
• improved overall health outcomes due to physical reconditioning
• more opportunities for social interaction and engagement.
• improved health outcomes and experiences for residents
• access to group therapy for residents at no cost
• increased awareness and access to allied health services within their facility
• strengthened relationships with allied health providers.
For allied health providers:
• increased capacity to deliver evidence-based group therapy programs to older adult populations
• opportunity to lead group therapy and contribute towards better health outcomes for RACH residents
• collection and contribution of robust data that can add to the evidence base and help inform future allied health funding models
• strengthened relationships with RACHs.