MiCare's Approach to Residential Care

It’s all in our name. MiCare is Australia’s most caring provider of culturally and linguistically diverse assistance and housing for our Elders. When you walk into one of our residential areas, there’s a good chance that the first thing you’ll hear is laughter. We encourage our residents to enjoy every day, to celebrate what they are capable of doing at their age, rather than worry what they can no longer manage. There are three MiCare ‘Residential Aged Care’ facilities in Melbourne, two in Kilsyth and the other in Carrum Downs. These three homes cater for frail elderly people and those with dementia. The people who live in these homes are not seen to be necessarily sick or unwell. Each Elder has their own room and can bring their own belongings and furniture. We endeavour to make our facilities look and feel like a normal home that reflects the mix of Elders that live there.

Edition 66 MiCareAt MiCare we like to think that our Elders are not living in our homes rather we are living in theirs. Our homes are set up in smaller households generally with about fifteen Elders per area and the same core group of staff looking after them. Elders are familiar with the care staff as well as other Elders living in the same household. A ‘Homemaker’ is the central person of the household. This person looks after the cooking and cleaning of the house. The homemaker welcomes Elders and visitors into the dining room and ensures they are comfortable and any wishes are attended to. Care staff assist Elders with their showers, toileting and other basic clinical needs.

Elders are not seen as sick people, hence MiCare is not medically focussed but rather provides clinical treatment as an adjunct to normal life needs. A Clinical Care Coordinator will attend to clinical needs if and when they occur and coordinate external expertise if the Elder’s condition calls for it. Of course, we never lose sight of the care required as our residents age and their bodies or minds begin to fail. Our homes provide both low and high care accommodation, and ‘ageing in place.’ Respite, dementia and palliative care are all offered but not in a way that removes our Elders from their familiar surroundings.

Our delivery of care follows the Eden philosophy. This approach is based on addressing the ‘three plagues’ being loneliness, helplessness and boredom. Our challenge is to address these plagues by providing companionship, meaningful activity and spontaneity in a ‘human habitat’ that is a home environment. Pets, plants, children, families and the community are seen as integral to the support and assistance given by the care staff. It is important that the Elder is consulted in the services provided to them. They are central to decision making and we encourage the Elder and their family to be actively involved in care and lifestyle planning.

One of our Elders, Helga, loves creating art and we have made a space for her to permanently house her paints, pencils and other equipment. She is free to paint all night if she wishes, as long as the nurses know that’s where she is. This is her home and we empower her to follow her passion.

Staff are mostly personal carers (PCA’s). They provide most of the hands on care with Elders. There are also many Enrolled Nurses (EN’s). PCA’s and EN’s are empowered to take responsibilities within their scope of practice, education and specific interests and passions. There are key staff that are particularly experienced, skilled and knowledgeable in the Aged Care field and they will mentor new staff, Elders and their families. Each home has Clinical Care Coordinators (CCC). The CCC is a registered nurse/Nurse Practitioner that is responsible for all clinical matters. The CCC will personally look after more complex and specialised clinical activities. Whilst the CCC supervises basic clinical treatments, PCA’s and EEN’s are educated and empowered to complete such tasks.

MiCare maintains a strong connection with the Dutch community particularly in Melbourne. The three Aged care homes provides for Dutch Elders but also those from a wide range other cultural backgrounds. Celebrations and events continue with both a Dutch flavour and also other cultures to meet the social needs of a larger ethno-specific community. Staff are also from a range of different cultural backgrounds to meet varying language needs as well as cultural understanding. At MiCare we have more than six hundred staff and counting. Most of whom can speak two or more languages that include over forty five languages.  In most part, staff communicate with each other in English. We encourage staff to socialise with the Elders and form friendships. Our experience has shown that often Elders greatly appreciate and enjoy chatting to those that care for them and providing them opportunity to be ‘givers’ in advice and support where appropriate. Being a ‘contributor’ is an important aspect of any person in view of self-esteem and this continues to be important as we age.

Robert van Duuren, General Manager Residential Services