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Global aged care alliance to promote benefits of small household models

Leading aged care providers from three continents with experience and passion for small domestic household models of residential care are joining together to advocate for its wider adoption.

The UK’s Belong, Australia’s HammondCare, and The Green House Project in the US have joined together as founding members of the Household Model International Consortium to utilise their shared experience, skills, data and voice to promote the quality-of-life benefits of small household living.

Representatives from the three organisations signed a Memorandum of Understanding today to form the consortium at the Australian High Commission, London.

An objective arising from the MOU will be a shared research agenda, including utilising each other’s respective relationships with universities, to deepen knowledge on the household model and how it can be further developed and enhanced.

HammondCare CEO Mike Baird said his organisation, one of Australia’s leading health and aged care providers, had more than 25 years of experience with the cottage model, a form of small household model, to support people living with dementia.

The recent Royal Commission into Aged Care, Quality and Safety, a blueprint for reform of the Australian aged care sector, recommended a shift toward small household or small-scale congregate living.

Mr Baird said: “Our experience is that the small household form of residential care provides reductions in hospital admissions, lower use of medications, and a higher quality of life for the residents.”

Belong Villages, which operates eight care communities for older people, was one of the early pioneers of the household model for people living with dementia in the UK.

CEO Martin Rix explained that in-depth research combined with the organisation’s early pilots with different sized households had enabled it to evaluate alternative approaches and it was this experience that led to household living becoming the blueprint for the new Belong villages that they now run.

“Our experience has really challenged traditional thinking around what is possible to achieve in terms of outcomes and quality of life for older people,” Mr Rix said.

“The feedback from the healthcare professionals we link with, as well as from families, is overwhelmingly positive, with the smaller household setting really proving conducive to the formation of strong relationships between both residents themselves and in addition, residents and members of the care team,” he said.

“This familiarity, in turn, provides a sense of security and wellbeing that enables residents to make the most of the wider creative, physical and social opportunities on offer in our care villages.”

Susan Ryan, CEO Centre for Innovation, the non-profit parent of The Green House Project, said the organisation had learnings from establishing nearly 400 homes that are small in scale, self-contained and self-sufficient in 32 US states.

“The COVID-19 pandemic showed the clear advantages of small-home alternatives to traditional eldercare settings, as well as the power of international collaboration,” Ms Ryan said.

“I’m delighted to join with our partners in eldercare transformation from around the world to share what we’ve learned and build the next generation of services and supports for elders everywhere.”

As well as research, the consortium will establish areas of strategic focus, joint papers, and position statements.

There will also be opportunity for staff exchanges and enhanced learning, as well as shared learning materials and packages.

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