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Award winning aged care leadership program launched in SA

A UK initiative promoting quality of life and delivering positive change in care homes for older people has been so well received in South Australia that there are plans to offer the program again next year.

(L-R) SA Innovation Hub Executive Officer Sarah Rhead, with My Home Life Directors Belinda Dewar and Julienne Meyer
(L-R) SA Innovation Hub Executive Officer Sarah Rhead, with My Home Life Directors Belinda Dewar and Julienne Meyer

The My Home Life (MHL) program started 10 years ago as a UK research project, but has grown to be a social movement for quality improvement in care homes across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. 

Its success builds on the more traditional person-centred, customer-facing approaches by placing more emphasis on relationships and engagement.

The SA Innovation Hub, a community of aged care providers working together to support older people, invited Professor Julienne Meyer, MHL England Director and Professor Belinda Dewar, MHL Scotland Director to deliver the program to 14 South Australian managers from across the industry.

Resthaven Mitcham Care Coordinator, Mark Bednall, who participated in the leadership support program says the presentations were a thoroughly enjoyable experience and thinks it is a novel and inclusive framework that seeks to improve the quality of the culture in residential homes, promoting quality relationships between our residents, their families, staff and the organisation.

“Part of the significant beauty of this program is that it teaches practical and easily understood concepts, together with tools that are able to be utilised or implemented into practice very quickly.

“I am already enjoying implementing ‘MHL thinking’ into my own practice and am looking for opportunities to more widely include our staff, residents and families in this process,” he says.

SA Innovation Hub Executive Officer Sarah Rhead says the MHL program is all about promoting cultural change within organisations. “Our sector is experiencing rapid social, technological and political change,” she says. “It is important that our leaders are ready to embrace that change and to create a positive future together.” 

Professor Meyer highlights with people entering care homes older, sicker and frailer, the workforce needs to be supported and upskilled. “These issues are prevalent around the world. The way in which society often doesn’t value older people and their experiences has a knock-on effect on those who work in the sector,” she says.

“That’s what’s great about collaborating internationally; we can draw on each other’s learning and explore best practice together.”

According to Professor Dewar, a point of difference in the program is its ‘appreciative enquiry approach’.

“Our starting point is to work out what’s working well and to understand why, rather than focusing on problems and trying to fix them. We look at beautiful practice and why it is working well to give us the answers to solve the things that perhaps aren’t working so well,” she says.

Although SA Innovation Hub members attended the fully subscribed first program, Ms Rhead says the organisation plans to offer it to a broader audience in 2017. 

To find out more, contact Sarah Rhead on 0428 871 839.

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