Autumnaged Care

Using diversional therapy to improve the quality of care

Autumnaged Care

Using diversional therapy to improve the quality of care

Diversional therapists play a crucial role in offering quality of care in aged care facilities – more than you may realise.

While diversional therapists are responsible for the residents’ daily leisure and lifestyle activities, they also liaise with family and relatives, setting up meetings, providing individual resident support, and helping to create care plans and documentation.

On top of all this, a close engagement and experience with residents, often over a long period of time, makes them an important source of information for other members of the aged care team.

Many diversional therapists begin with a nursing background, which is enhanced through extensive training over time and built upon many years’ experience working in aged care.

Their wisdom and insight can be an invaluable asset to the care team.

Finding the right strategy to solve issues that arise

Ki, a lifestyle coordinator (another name for a diversional therapist) from Autumn Care’s Bentons Lodge, shared some of the ways she has been able to help staff improve the care they deliver to residents.

A recent experience Ki touched on was when one of the care staff had continual difficulty with a resident’s activity of daily living, including personal care. The lifestyle coordinator was able to help the personal care attendant by drawing their attention to the likes and dislikes of the resident, and how to approach the person with sensitivity. The outcome was a more confident care staff member and a happy resident.

In another situation, a resident with cognitive decline was trying to leave the facility unsupervised. Ki explained how the lifestyle team supported care staff with ways to reduce this occurrence by setting up simple ways to engage the resident and make him happy.

Ki works with the care team to develop strategies for residents showing signs of physical or verbal aggression and helps provide appropriate care for those that require memory support.

The lifestyle coordinator mentions that advice is often given informally, but is also included in more formal support processes such as care plans and progress notes.

“With lifestyle, we see a lot of different aspects of care,” she said, “We try to have a holistic approach to engagement. It’s of prime importance that we know how to support the wellbeing of our residents and how to assist them to be happy and calm.”

“We can suggest the little strategies that might work, and are always happy to share,” she said.

Lifestyle staff can be consulted regularly

Chris, a diversional therapist from Autumn Aged Care’s Clovelly Cottage in Boronia, said her work promotes the independence, physical and mental health, enjoyment and self-worth of residents.  

She also ensures that residents with disabilities have their special needs met to receive the highest quality of care.

The time Chris spends with residents and her experience in different facets of care means she is well qualified and able to provide valuable advice to other care staff.

For example, if a non-verbal resident becomes isolated, Chris would advise staff to praise the resident and smile at them. Do not hurry, break down all the person’s activities into simple manageable steps, with no distractions, and ensure the area around them is uncluttered.

Chris said lifestyle staff should be regularly consulted about residents’ care to make sure up-to-date information about their physical or mental wellbeing is shared, including any social changes that may have occurred in their lives being noted and taken into account.

The work that diversional therapists do is fundamental to ensuring the quality of care for residents, but the time they spend with residents and their often wide-ranging experience in aged care means they are also a valuable resource for other staff members to consult when issues arise.

Top 5 points a carer can learn from diversional therapy.

  1. Engage: Take a little time to get to know residents and their story
  2. Discover: Try to understand their likes and dislikes
  3. Simplify: Break down activities into manageable steps
  4. Communicate: Share your observations with fellow care staff
  5. Enjoy: Smile and make someone’s day!
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