Art brings harmony to aged care in the Bush

Flinders Rural Health SA is embarking on an ambitious research project to bring art and music therapy to aged-care homes in regional areas of Australia.

The Harmony in the Bush project will be funded by a two-year $1.5 million grant from the Australian Government which recently released $35 million in funding to support innovation in dementia care and other aged-care services.

Dementia is the second leading cause of overall disease burden and the leading cause of disability burden for people aged 65 and above in Australia. The majority of people with severe dementia are cared for in aged-care facilities.

Starting with five rural aged-care homes in South Australia and Northern Queensland, the personalised model of care will be rolled out to other nursing homes.

The approach will apply Progressively Lowered Stress Threshold principles and incorporate individualised music intervention, art and/or community engagement activities to improve the quality of residential aged-care in rural communities.

Professor Jenenne Greenhill, Director of Flinders Rural Health SA, will lead the project with her research team – Prue Mellor RN, Associate Professor Edward Strivens, Professor Gerri Hall, Dr Vivian Isaac and Dr Abraham Kuot.

Professor Greenhill, who is based in the Riverland, says Harmony in the Bush involves the creation of a low-stress organisational culture where care is more personalised and holistic.

Staff are educated to plan care that will eliminate the stressors known to cause disturbed behaviours in clients with dementia.

“Music can heal the mind and connect generations,” says Professor Greenhill.

“This project will implement well established, non-pharmacological behavioural interventions for sufferers of dementia and co-design personalised care incorporating music and movement.

“We anticipate that this approach will result in long-term positive patient outcomes with parallel reduction in staff stress.

“We hope to show that nursing homes can be a great place to live and work,” Professor Greenhill says.

Flinders Rural Health SA believes this research will form the foundation for widespread changes in the delivery of residential aged-care facilities throughout rural Australia.

The project will use co-design principles to implement and evaluate a personalised model of care.

The $35 million in Australian Government grants aim to help the aged-care system to meet the challenges ahead, including to respond to rising levels of dementia and to provide adequate consumer-directed care options for people from diverse backgrounds.




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