Dealing with stereotypesOlder people are not all the same. Each older person has a broad range of experiences that have shaped their life, making the population more diverse than most other age groups.Stereotyping can be dangerous because inaccurate assumptions can negatively affect health and wellbeing outcomes. Stereotyping can also have an effect on the older person’s impression of aged care, as well as how health professionals view working with older people.All partners-in-care, including external service providers and the wider community, can be influenced by negative stereotypes and myths about ageing and aged care. Left unchallenged, these can adversely impact on the provision of quality health and care outcomes.
Adjusting to new roles and lifestylesMoving into an aged-care facility can be a difficult time for all partners involved.
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Caring for Older People: a Partnership Model
Addressing diversityNurturing respectful partnerships with others requires cultural awareness, sensitivity and understanding.When we talk about diversity we’re generally referring to country of origin or identity, cultural values and behaviours, language and communication, religious and/or spiritual beliefs, and sexual or gender identity.These factors play an increasingly significant role in aged care as migration and globalisation have resulted in the growing cultural diversity of many populations.For some people, this can be a confronting experience if there are significant differences in beliefs, values and life experiences between different partners-in-care, especially when individuals from diverse backgrounds may be meeting for the first time in a healthcare or aged-care setting.Sometimes these differences can lead to communication difficulties and misunderstandings between older people and their families and healthcare staff.Such misunderstandings, based on incorrect or inaccurate assumptions, can lead to healthcare disparities, conflict or communication failure, which could potentially lead to an adverse event or serious harm.
Respecting choice and independenceFrom a conceptual point of view, each of us is already on a partnership-based journey.For example, even if we believe ourselves to be truly independent and able to make our choices based on our own needs and preferences, the fact is we all belong to a family, team, network, organisation, culture or community that has an influence on our decision-making.In this respect, partnership-centred care is about balancing the needs and preferences of older people with those of their wider family, social, community and healthcare networks.
Developing mutually beneficial relationshipsA network of new relationships begins to form as soon as an older person enters a healthcare situation.These networks can begin with simple communications such as asking questions to gather facts about the older person’s life, preferences and health status. As treatment and care pathways are discussed and decisions are made, a more relationship-based focus starts to build.During this process and as more disciplines become involved in an older person’s care, effective interdisciplinary teamwork can become challenging, especially if collaborative approaches are not supported.For this reason, organisational systems that encourage collaborative engagement are best placed to support the development of more mutually beneficial relationships between partners-in-care.
Your taskNow that you’ve discovered more about some of the challenges that older people and their partners-in-care face, reflect and share your thoughts about the following questions:
- What are your experiences of these challenges?
- Do different partners-in-care tend to do their own thing and work toward their own goals, or is there a collaborative approach?
- What challenges or tensions have you come across or could you envisage that might impact the success of a partners-in-care approach?
- What risks are posed by teams or individuals working in isolation from the broader care team?
Caring for Older People: a Partnership Model
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