Putting aged-care in the bush front and centre

9 Aug 2016

Caroline Langston

One of the inevitable findings on Census Night will be that Australia has an ageing population, and a fact already clear to WA Churchill Fellow Caroline Langston is that population needs better care.

Just over a year ago, Caroline was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to investigate ways to improve access to aged and dementia care in small rural communities.

The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust has awarded more than 4,000 Fellowships, worth an average of $25,000, sending Fellows overseas to seek knowledge, and bring it back for the benefit of Australia.

Caroline travelled to Canada, Denmark, Scotland and the Netherlands gathering insights into how other countries have addressed rural access to aged and dementia care, returning home full of ideas.

“My Churchill Fellowship was an incredible opportunity, allowing me to examine emerging models of accommodation and service delivery and their applicability to smaller communities,” she said.

“Critically, I was able to see how technology is enhancing the delivery ofservices, and particularly what the role of the rural community was in conjunction with supporting service and care coordination.”

Ms Langston said that the knowledge she gained has affirmed that it is possible to provide a higher standard of aged and dementia care in rural Western Australia, and indeed across the country.

“To achieve this we need to challenge the deeply-rooted attitudes and fears about ageing and death, shifting from the dominant paradigm of frailties and decline, and instead focus on risk and opportunity,” she said.

Highlights of Caroline’s trip included seeing in action the extensive,successful use of home monitoring, the apparent simplicity of integrating technology, and the way people benefit from such services.

“One of my key takeaways was witnessing people with lived experience of dementia, who have been, and are able to, inform the research and policy agenda,” Caroline said.

“I have seen services and programs that focus on the potential of the aged to contribute to society, and such moments left me invigorated and hopeful of what we can achieve here in Australia.”

CEO of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, Mr Adam Davey, said that Fellows such as Caroline typify the spirit with which the Churchill Trust was created.

“The Churchill Fellowships offer a way for ordinary people to envisage and realise a project, and then use the knowledge gained from that project to improve their community,” Mr Davey said.

“Caroline’s Fellowship, from its first ideas through to its execution and research gathering embodies this spirit, and will no doubt benefit her immediate community, and the community more broadly.

“Issues of policy related to aged care are complicated ones faced by our governments, but for the families and friends of those who are in desperate need, it is a much more difficult question.

“The knowledge Caroline has gained offers much promise for how our system could be better shaped and better delivered, to ensure the older members of our society are supported.

“The Trust is proud to call Caroline a Churchill Fellow, and we look forward to seeing how her research will contribute to improving regional access to aged and dementia care services.”

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