Aiming to improve the independence of aged care residents living with mild-to-moderate dementia

Lead project nurse at Calvary Ryde Wei Hu and occupational therapist Linda Maher (front) listen as retired priest and project participant Fr Don Willoughby explains his goals and aspirations.

There is a common misconception that there is little that can be done to support residential aged care residents living with dementia or a mild cognitive impairment to maintain their independence.

“Previous studies have shown that simply isn’t the case,” Calvary Health Care’s senior medical advisory for aged care Dr Tony Hobbs said.


The University of Sydney, with residential aged care project partners Calvary and Whiddon, are being enrolled to take part in a five-year research implementation project that aims to improve the independence of residents living with mild-to-moderate dementia.

“This new approach is designed to help residents continue to participate in activities and maintain their independence and function for as long we can,” Dr Hobbs said.

To start the study, the University of Sydney, with residential aged care project partners Calvary and Whiddon, are trialling and evaluating a 20-week Interdisciplinary Care Home-based Reablement Program (I-CHARP) across 16 aged care homes.

The reablement program teams included experienced occupational therapists and nurses to develop holistic and tailored care plans with and for residents based on their individual needs and goals.

Enrolments and detailed assessments for the program began for eligible residents at Calvary’s aged care home in Ryde in Sydney last week, with homes in other parts of the country set to join as the study progresses. Among the first residents to sign up for the study was Fr Don Willoughby, who said he hoped it might “give some insights” and help other people.

The I-CHARP model builds on the Interdisciplinary Home-based Reablement Program (I-HARP), which successfully improved daily independence and slowed further decline among people with mild dementia living in the community.

“Reablement is centered on the idea that health and wellbeing of older people, with or without dementia, can be maximised through helping them participate in their daily physical, social and community activities,” said Project lead Professor Yun-Hee Jeon.


“We’ve seen how it can work in other settings. We had many participants in our previous studies who told us how wonderful it was to have that sort of positive outlook rather than saying well ‘you can’t do this and you can’t do that’ all the time.”

Popular Articles

View All Articles
Article Img
What makes a great retirement village manager?

As anyone who lives in a retirement village will tell you, the village manager is a central figure who is critical to the success of the village and the happiness and wellbeing of village residents. But there’s no doubt the village manager plays an essential role. So, what is the role of a retirement village manager?

Article Img
Retirement villages without exit fees? They’re happening!

Retirement villages without exit fees? They’re happening! Now, some of Australia’s largest retirement village operators are looking at new ways to pay for retirement villages that don’t include exit fees – indeed, there are calls for some exit fees to be banned.

Article Img
What sort of profits do retirement village owners make?

The number of Australians over the age of 75 is expected to increase by 70% over the next six years. The number of Australians over the age of 80 is expected to triple to more than 3.5 million over the next 40 years. As the number of older people in Australia surges, so too does demand for age-appropriate housing – such as retirement villages, which offer an affordable lifestyle, community, and ongoing health and wellness support.

Article Img
73% of Australians willing to sacrifice inheritance for aged care

Nearly three-quarters of all Australians are willing to sacrifice their own inheritance so their parents and grandparents can enjoy the retirement they deserve, according to a new report by B2B aged care service CompliSpace.

Article Img
Volunteers are the backbone of the aged care sector, and more are needed

Tens of thousands of people, of all ages, such as 90-year-old Lily Burns and 20-year-old Charlise Hannagan, volunteer in aged care homes. The Change Makers is the theme for this year’s National Volunteer Week, 15 to 21st May, which celebrates the vital work of volunteers.

A special thanks to our contributors

Caroline Egan

DCM Media, agedcare101

Caroline has a wealth of experience writing within the retirement and aged care sector and is a contributing journalist for the and agedcare101 blog and accompanying newsletters.

Ian Horswill


Ian is a journalist, writer and sub-editor for the aged care sector, working at The DCM Group. He writes for The Weekly Source, agedcare101, and the DCM Institute fortnightly newsletter Friday. Ian is in daily contact with CEOs of retirement living, land lease and the aged care operations and makes a new contact every week. He investigates media releases, LinkedIn and Facebook for a good source for ideas for stories.

Lauren Broomham

Retirement and Aged Care Journalist

Lauren is a journalist for, agedcare101 and The Donaldson Sisters. Growing up in a big family in small town communities, she has always had a love for the written word, joining her local library at the age of six months. With over eight years' experience in writing and editing, she is a keen follower of news and current affairs with a nose for a good story.

Jill Donaldson


Jill has been practicing as a clinical physiotherapist for 30 years. For the last 13 years she has worked solely in the Aged Care sector in more than 50 metropolitan and regional facilities. Jill has also toured care facilities in the US and Africa and is a passionate advocate for both the residents in aged care and the staff who care for them. She researches and writes for DCM Media.

Chris Baynes

DCM Media, agedcare101

Chris has been a journalist and publisher in the retirement village and aged care sectors for 11 years. He has visited over 250 retirement villages and 50 aged care facilities both within Australia and internationally. Chris is a regular speaker at industry conferences plus is a frequent radio commentator.

Annie Donaldson

Nurse and Carer

Annie has a long career in both nursing and the media. She has planned and co-ordinated the medical support from both international TV productions and major stadium events. In recent years she has been a primary family carer plus involved in structured carer support.