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What is holistic care in aged care?

When considering a move into aged care and the types of supports you will receive, you are likely thinking of the care that will be delivered to ensure your health needs are met while living in a nursing home.

Last updated: November 27th 2022
Holistic care includes your mental, emotional, personal, cultural and spiritual health within your overall care. [Source: iStock]

Holistic care includes your mental, emotional, personal, cultural and spiritual health within your overall care. [Source: iStock]

Key points:

  • Holistic care involves services and activities that meet your personal, emotional, spiritual and social needs
  • This care can look like assistance accessing services that improve your mental or spiritual wellbeing, such as attending local church services or connecting with social groups
  • You can talk to an aged care provider about how they can support you to continue accessing the necessary services to live well

However, aged care facilities try to provide a broad range of services that benefit not only your health, but also your wellbeing, which is considered holistic care.

Your mental, emotional, personal, cultural and spiritual health is just as important as your physical health, and that should be supported through the activities, services, and amenities available to you while living in aged care.

What is this type of care?

The idea of holistic care is to take the whole person into consideration when delivering care. So this should include the social, emotional, cultural and spiritual aspects of your life, as it can have a direct impact on your enjoyment and wellbeing in a nursing home.

Not all aged care facilities call this type of care ‘holistic care’, it may even be described as ‘person centred care’, however, all providers understand the importance of considering the whole person when delivering care and services.

Holistic care caters for the social, emotional, cultural and spiritual parts that you identify with, which can ensure that you feel connected with the things that matter most to you while receiving aged care services.

On entering an aged care home, your provider should take down your likes and dislikes so they can cater towards these needs, as well as any cultural factors that are important to you.

This is the perfect time to let your new provider know what you need to live a full and enjoyable life while in their care.

Some of this lifestyle information can also be outlined in your nursing home care plan. You can learn more about this plan in our article, ‘What is a nursing home care plan?

What does holistic care look like in practice?

There are generally five areas that holistic care covers – social, emotional, spiritual, cultural and personal wellness.

If you are struggling to meet people in your aged care facility and feel socially isolated, your nursing home can help you get out and about and make those connections with others who you would get along with.

Whereas, emotional assistance may be ensuring that care is delivered in a way that is not triggering or providing access to therapies that can assist with any anxiety you might be facing. This could be connection with mental health specialists or access to therapies like massage or aromatherapy to help reduce anxiety and stress.

For an older person in care who has a strong connection with their religion, an aged care facility can make sure that you have access to all the events and supports you need to remain connected to your religion.

For example, if you wish to attend church every Sunday, you should be supported to either attend your local church or a chapel service within your facility. Or if you have a religion that requires you to adhere to specific practices, such as praying multiple times a day, you may need assistance to undertake this from carers at your facility.

This type of assistance contributes to your right to freely follow your wishes and lifestyle while in aged care.

In other cases of holistic care, it could include easy access to activities that bring you joy, like art classes or crafting groups.

Accessing services to live well

If you are living in an aged care facility and want to upkeep the important rituals and services that help you live your life to the fullest, you should discuss with your provider, family and friends to ensure these services continue for you.

In aged care, you may find some services are delivered by the facility, so you can continue undertaking the things you enjoy, while other services you want to access out in the community may need to be discussed with your provider so they can help you continue these hobbies.

Moving into aged care shouldn’t stop you from living the life you want to lead, so it is important that the provider you choose to deliver care and support is able to uphold the activities that are important to you.

Your provider is required to meet the “emotional, spiritual and psychological wellbeing” of their aged care clients under the Aged Care Quality Standards, so you can be assured that your facility will try its best to meet your needs. You can learn more about the Quality Standards in our article, ‘Aged Care Quality Standards explained‘.

What holistic care activities are important to you to continue? Tell us in the comments below.

Related content

Understanding aged care homes
Life in an aged care home
Quality of life factors for older Australians


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