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Offering ‘tools for life’ for men in care

A Victorian award winning lifestyle program is encouraging social engagement and participation among male residents living in residential aged care.

<p>The ‘Tools for Life’ men’s club program, developed by Victorian aged care provider BlueCross, encourages male residents to engage and participate in life in residential care.</p>

The ‘Tools for Life’ men’s club program, developed by Victorian aged care provider BlueCross, encourages male residents to engage and participate in life in residential care.

The ‘Tools for Life’ men’s club program, developed by Victorian aged care provider BlueCross Monterey in Melbourne's suburb of Glenroy, is the recent recipient of a Better Practice Award from the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency (AACQA).

The award will be formally presented by Nick Ryan, AACQA chief executive, at the BlueCross Extravaganza event next month.

Research indicates that lifestyle programs in residential aged care are generally skewed to 'female oriented' activities, given the larger proportion of females in care. These programs may not capture the male resident’s interests, capabilities and strengths, leading to a lack of engagement.

The Tools for Life club at BlueCross Monterey was established to address this imbalance by providing meaningful activities tailored to appeal to the interests of the males within the residence.

Laura Clarke, BlueCross Monterey residence manager, says the organisation’s lifestyle team wanted to make a positive difference to the male residents’ lives.

“So, we began developing the program in collaboration with them and other men’s groups in the local area,” Ms Clarke says.

“We combined a person centred philosophy with a reminiscence approach to nurture each participant’s individuality. The activities in the Tools for Life Club were designed to encourage social engagement and participation, foster sharing of knowledge and life experiences, as well as maintain and build new skills,” she says.

As more and more men enter residential aged care, program’s such as Tools for Life are become increasingly important, according to Ms Clarke.

The club was implemented in February 2013 as part of the lifestyle calendar with a continuous improvement methodology adopted to ensure the club continues to meet the needs of members and achieve positive outcomes.

“The lifestyle team, residents, their families and friends have been vital in the program’s success, as has been the intergenerational component of the program,” Ms Clarke says.

Students from local schools join the group to show the residents how to use computers and the residents teach the students woodworking skills.

By providing a dedicated club where the men can come together in a group and feel respected and valued, BlueCross Monterey has been able to ultimately improve the overall wellbeing of male residents.

The club also reportedly enables stronger community connections and improved socialisation within the residence.

Tools for Life participants are reportedly showing increased self esteem, independence and communication with their families. Some other key outcomes recorded include: increased participation, gaining of new skills as well as physical, and cognitive and mental health benefits.

The Tools for Life club is easily transferable to other residences, with evidence based models and processes that can be adapted to suit the residents’ needs and interests at each location.

BlueCross is excited about the potential for wide reaching positive outcomes for male residents in aged care at BlueCross and beyond, and would be happy to showcase the program to interested parties.

Find out more information about BlueCross Monterey.

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