Refocus on Reablement as an Evolution in Aged Care

The Independent Living Centre’s Hilary O’Connell was invited to attend a three-day workshop in Norway in November 2018. She joined Researchers from seven other countries (Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and UK) to become part of the ReAble Network, an international collaboration of known experts in the field of Reablement research. This mix ensures learning across cultures and welfare models, as well as allowing us to investigate reablement from different disciplinary approaches and methods.

Hilary currently works as a Service Manager at the Independent Living Centre WA and is well known in Australia and the UK for her work in establishing Wellness and Reablement services and approaches into Aged Care Policy. She is an active member of the Australian Association of Gerontology (AAG) Expert Reference Group. Who aim to translate research into practice and promote the implementation of evidence-based practice reablement approaches with aged care, health and dementia service professionals in Australia. Hilary also works with Dr Elissa Burton at Curtin University’s School of Physiotherapy & Exercise Science to conduct reablement research in Western Australia.[1]

Hilary explained that “Reablement aims to encourage confidence and is centred around regaining skills or learning new ways to do things by improving a person’s capacity and function. It is about ‘Doing with’ rather than ‘Doing for’.”

The ReAble Network originated under Professor Tine Rostgaard of the Danish Centre for Social Science Research (VIVE) and meets again in Copenhagen in June 2019 to progress collaboration and learnings across the countries and to present their preliminary findings at the Transforming Care Conference. The planned outcomes from the Network include a book, themed journals, and empirical insights into international and local reablement practices. Hilary supports Professor Rostgaard’s thinking of reablement as a ‘Social Investment in Older People’ and believes it is important to look at reablement as a pathway to bringing more sustainability to the aged care sector:

“Reablement challenges systematic and cultural norms that devalue older people and the societal belief that as we get older we will get frail and weak. There is evidence to support that older people can reable, adapt, strengthen and relearn skills. It really is about use it or lose it as we get older, but you can also take steps to get it back!” For more information contact Hilary O’Connell, from the Independent Living Centre on 1300 885 886.


Hilary O'Connell sitting with client, having a cup of tea
Hilary speaking with client

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