Alison Hutchinson

Alison Hutchinson

Alfred Deakin Professor Alison Hutchinson is Chair in Nursing at Monash Health in Melbourne, and Professor of Nursing in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Deakin University.

Location Deakin University, Geelong, Australia


  • Welcome and thank you for telling us a bit about the reasons for your interest in this course. It is wonderful to have learners who bring a range of experiences and perspectives and all with the goal of learning more about how to care for older people. We look forward to reading your comments and conversations over the next two weeks.

  • Andrea, thank you for your question.
    A partnership centred approach can be applied in any setting and indeed the Tri-focal Model of Care, incorporating a partnership-centred approach, evidence-based practice, and a positive environment, can also be applied.

    Setting the expectations regarding the Model and ongoing communication between all involved in the...

  • Thanks for your question Celica.
    Assuming the older person is cognitively able to make decisions for themselves, they have the right to determine who is involved in the planning and decision-making about their life and care. They should be given the opportunity to make their preferences known in regard to this and their preferences should be respected.


  • Wendy, thank you for raising the point regarding cultural differences. This is a really important point, which must not be overlooked.

  • Some good conversations have occurred within this thread. A number of people have expressed their belief that the partnership centred approach has merit. Some have noted that cognitive impairment, such as dementia, may have an influence on the partnership relationship. The importance of good communication and respect have also been noted. The thoughts of some...

  • The thoughts that have been expressed in regards to Harry's situation, through the exercise of putting yourselves in Harry's shoes, have illustrated great empathy and understanding. In combination, you have identified the fears, concerns and losses that Harry is likely to be experiencing at this time. The importance of understanding Harry's perspective, his...

  • Alison Hutchinson made a comment

    Thank you for your thoughtful comments regarding the circumstances that Harry is experiencing, as presented in the video. This scenario is similar to situations that many of you have observed in your own lives. Hence, many of you have provided excellent recommendations for how to support Harry and how to facilitate his transition into life in an aged care...

  • Thank you for your comments, and to those of you are taking a FutureLearn course for the first time I am sure you will find the experience of social learning both inspiring and informative. Enjoy.

  • Thank you to those of you who have shared the reasons for your decision to join this course.

    It is wonderful that we have participants from all walks of life, from all over the world, and we have representation from those who describe themselves as older people, those who are family or friends of older people, and health professionals and other care...

  • That's a good point to raise Carolyn. Yes, it is possible that care providers might have conflicting positions to that of the older person. Each situation is unique and requires weighing up of risks and benefits while respecting the preferences of the older person. Balancing all of these sometimes requires compromise from different parties to ensure an...

  • Thanks Collette. You are absolutely right that this model has similarities with a person-centred care approach. However, a partnership-centred approach, while always putting the older person at the centre of considerations, enables the voices of all those involved in their care to be heard. The rationale for this is that viewing a situation through many lenses...

  • Thank you for your postings relating to the situation Harry is facing and how he might be feeling. The sense of loss and grief that he is likely to be experiencing as well as a range of other emotions have been covered in your postings. In all you have also captured a wide range of challenges from the perspectives of Harry, his family and the health care team....

  • Alison Hutchinson made a comment

    Thank you for your thoughtful comments about transitions in care. Harry's experience has prompted a number of comments about the challenges and sense of loss experienced by older people when they transition into a nursing home. Additionally, many of you have described the sense of guilt you experienced in association with this transition. Importantly though,...

  • It's fantastic to see people from such varied and interesting backgrounds joining this course. It is also wonderful to learn the reasons why you have chosen to join the course. Having participants who can share their views and experiences as family members supporting older people, as well as aged care workers and those from a range of disciplines, will enable...

  • Thank you for your interest in the partnership approach to care of the older person.

    Additional resources can be located via the Centre for Education and Innovation in Aged Care at

    You may also read about some of our findings, from the perspective of older people and family...

  • Sincere thanks to everyone for their contributions to the discussions that have occurred during this course. The depth of discussion and sharing of knowledge and experiences has been excellent.

    I wish you all the best in promoting strong and productive partnerships in the caring relationship.

  • Darrah, thank you for your comment about an individual's culture. The older person's cultural beliefs and values are fundamental to who they are and to their preferences and behaviours. Understanding the older person's culture is crucial to enabling a true, respectful partnership, one in which the older person's beliefs and values are taken into account.

  • Thanks for your comment Ronald. I think what you are referring to is the culture of the organisation/centre/facility. The culture, I believe, is largely driven by the leader/s. Promoting a philosophy of partnership-centred care to become part of the culture can be driven by those in leadership roles.

  • Wonderful to see technology being used to enable communication between an older person and their loved ones who are geographically distant!

  • Thanks Linda.
    You raise an excellent point. In the care of the older person with advanced dementia, taking a partnership approach is even more important. In particular, the role of the family who know the older person's past, their preferences, habits and so on, is so important in informing the care providers. You are right when you say the older person's...

  • Thanks Brenda. Understanding and respecting cultural beliefs and values during interactions is vital to enabling open communication and ensuring that all partners have an equal say.

  • Great example Anne. Thank you.

  • Thanks Marie. You've recommended some very practical strategies that can be used to communicate while respecting and preserving the dignity of the older person.

  • Thanks for your comment Alan. You raise some important points. The issue of power relationships is very important. Care providers need to be aware of their position of power and to enable a partnership-centred approach they need to actively ensure that all members of the partnership are give equal opportunity to have a voice and to be listened to.

  • Thanks Kerry. Are there strategies that family members could use to ensure nurses and other care staff hear the family or the older person?

  • Welcome to week 2. I can see that a number of thoughtful posts have been made in various sections for week 2. This week's focus on application of the partnership-centred approach will provide you with some constructive strategies to help promote partnerships in care.

  • Thanks Rochelle. You make a good point about the balance between promoting safety and independence.

    Do others have ideas about how this balance could be achieved?

  • Thanks Asma'a. You raise an important point. I believe the principles of partnership centred care can be applied in any setting, whether that be the community, acute care or residential aged care. Collaboration, constructive communication, respect and reciprocity are relevant to the interactions between older people, family members and staff in any setting in...

  • Thank you for all your comments.
    I note that some people have rightly expressed concern about the logistics of bringing all members of the partnership together. It may not be physically possible to have all members of the partnership participate face-to-face. In these circumstances, some members may need to join meetings by telephone or media such as Skype....

  • Thank you for your comments and discussion.
    The importance of active and open communication and the importance of functioning as a team have been identified in the comments.

    It has been noted that understanding the older person's life and life experiences and the historical and social changes they have witnessed during their lifetime is important. The...

  • You are right Elizabeth, good communication is hard to achieve. It has to be worked at, all the time. Achieving a partnership-centred approach requires commitment to good communication and perseverance.

  • There are some very thoughtful comments in this discussion thread. In the main, the Tri-focal Model of Care has received strong support. Reservations regarding how it can be used in practice have been raised by some. Like all models of care, implementation of the Tri-focal Model of Care requires commitment and leadership. The Model has been implemented in some...

  • Thank you for your comment Brenda. Yes, promoting a strong and constructive partnership does require a time investment. However, the investment pays off when the well-being of all partners is optimised. This will ultimately save time in not having to attend to errors and quality issues that arise from poor or inadequate communication.

  • Peter, thank you for your thoughts. You've very eloquently described the importance of maintaining an identity and sense of worth, and having a sense of control. You also raise a very important point about what Harry can offer. The wisdom and experience of older people is often overlooked. This is a lost opportunity.

  • Alison Hutchinson made a comment

    Thank you for your comments.

    There are a number of important themes emerging in the comments in this thread. I can see that many of the comments relate to very personal experiences. Others strongly empathize with those experiences.

    The goal of supporting and enabling the older person to stay at home as long as possible has been raised. Striving to...

  • This is very true Caroline. It is so important to allow for cultural differences.

  • Thanks for sharing your experience Carol.

  • Great point regarding consideration of what the other person would want. Also, putting yourself 'in the shoes' of another person (thinking about the situation from their perspective) can be very helpful in gaining an understanding of their perspective and their actions. This is important to establishing a mutually beneficial outcome.

  • Thanks Alison. You raise a good point. This is one of the key issues that affects uptake of a partnership-approach to care. Changing mindset and the way a healthcare professional has traditionally worked can be very challenging. However, to achieve a partnership-centred approach a shift in thinking is required.

  • Thanks Neville. Yes, patience and active listening are so important to enabling the older person to express their needs and preference, and to ensure they feel heard and respected.

  • Malcolm, you are absolutely correct that the preferences of a person with dementia may change at different points in time. Often such changes relate to day-to-day activities. The partnership-centred approach should still accommodate these changes in preference. In terms of a person losing capacity for decision making, the partnership centred approach...

  • Alison, thank you for your insightful comment. You have articulated very nicely the importance of acknowledging changes in an older persons needs and preference, and the potential consequences of routine and task-driven approaches, being that changes in needs and preferences may not be accommodated.