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  • Writer's pictureUWA

A new resource to improve quality of life for older Aboriginal people

Updated: Jul 19, 2021

Dr Kate Smith and her colleagues from The University of Western Australia have launched a free resource package to support health professionals, aged-care providers and policy-makers to measure and optimise the quality of life of older Aboriginal Australians.

The resource was launched in late 2020 by Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt and Ben Wyatt, WA Minister for Aboriginal Affairs.

The Good Spirit Good Life assessment package comprises of an assessment tool, framework, training guide, and recommendations informed by Aboriginal elders in Perth and Melbourne. The package addressed gaps in health and aged care by providing a culturally-informed approach to measuring, understanding and meeting the quality of life needs of older Aboriginal people. Optimising quality of life was a primary policy objective of the Federal Government to support older Australians.

By understanding what older Indigenous Australians find important, and in listening to their world views, services and carers are empowered to provide holistic support that improves quality of life and achieves better outcomes.

The assessment tool measures wellbeing using 12 interconnected markers of what is most important to older Aboriginal Australians. They include family and friends, connection to country, community, culture, health, respect, their role as an elder, support services, safety and security, spirituality, future wishes and basic needs being met.

There is still a significant health divide between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians with Aboriginal people often needing access to aged-care services at a younger age,” Dr Smith said.

Unfortunately in Perth and surrounds there is still a gap in culturally-informed service provision for older Aboriginal people, with limited Aboriginal community controlled aged care available. In addition, there are specific requirements for culturally-appropriate care that are often not properly understood, even for health and aged care providers at the coal face. This presents huge challenges for older people, their carers and families.

For example, the health and wellbeing of older Aboriginal people is heavily based on cultural and social factors such as connection to land and family, respect from others as an elder and being able to pass down knowledge to the younger generation through the elder role.

This is important work. The project has been made possible through a NHMRC/ARC Dementia Research Fellowship and from a grant provided by the Poche Indigenous Health Network.

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