Reablement Workshop – a local and global perspective


A recent CDPC workshop, “Reablement in theory and practice: Danish and Australian approaches”, at Royal North Shore Hospital attracted allied health professionals, clinical practitioners and aged care workers.

CDPC Director Professor Susan Kurrle welcomed Professor Tine Rostgaard, a research professor at Vive (The Danish Centre of Applied Social Science) and Professor Chris Poulos, a rehabilitation physician and Head of Research and Aged Care Clinical Services for HammondCare.

“Reablement is a person centred and multi-disciplinary intervention that has growing traction in aged care internationally. We are delighted to present an international policy perspective from Tine and information about Australia’s Short Term Restorative Care (STRC) Program from Chris,” Professor Kurrle said.
In the Danish context reablement is part of a policy response to the ageing population and part of a “social investment” policy approach, says Professor Rostgaard.

“In Europe and Denmark policy embraces an active ageing strategy that enables older people to stay longer in the labour market, live autonomously and in their own homes as long as possible.

“The social investment approach is a ‘better to prepare than repair’ for an ageing society and the labour market, with demand for care workers expected to double by 2050.

“Reablement is based on a person's need and is a ‘help to self-help care’ approach that changes the way we see old age. It has sparked a new care culture with a positive effect for care staff, who are less likely to quit,” she said.
Although positive for the person receiving the reablement model of care, studies to date, according to Tine, have not shown a significant difference in health care costs.

“But simply, perhaps it is just the right thing to do as it’s a citizen-centred approach that promotes participation in society, independence and ageing with dignity,” Professor Rostgaard said.

Professor Chris Poulos emphasised the importance of a lifecourse approach to healthy and positive ageing.

“HammondCare’s Centre for Positive Ageing has a strong focus on physical activity and uses evidence-based programs to help people maximise their functional ability and realise their goals.

“The STRC is an 8 week program that targets people over 65 with functional decline who are likely to be responsive to intervention.

“Following An Aged Care Assessment Team approval the STRC provider works with the person to establish goals such as daily living activities, managing outside of the home, reconnecting with family and friends and food preparation,” Professor Poulos said.

The positive ageing approach is an individual one that helps people make the most of their ageing experience, whatever their circumstances.
Workshop attendee, Nadia Williams, coordinator of the Stepping On program for the Northern Sydney and Central Coast Local Health Districts, said she found the talk on reablement in practice very interesting.

The aim of our program is to develop confidence in people over 65 who have been set back due to a fall. It is also available for people with dementia who have carers.

“It is reablement in practice”. By focusing on positive aging, it gives people the tools to identify their falls risk factors and to improve their confidence, strength and balance.

“Stepping On is an evidence based program developed in Australia, which aims to reduce falls and build confidence in the over 65 age group. The randomised control evidence shows that the program reduces the risk of having a fall by 31%,”. (

When asked for an example of a personal success story of the program, Nadia recounted the story of Betty who was taken to the program with a carer. She was highly anxious and she had not left her home in three years without someone to accompany her.
“I saw her at the program booster two months after the program had. She was using a walking stick to go out because it makes her feel safer and now regularly takes the bus to visit her son and his family.

“Betty proudly told me how shocked her son was when she first arrived at his house without her carer, she said, ‘he kept looking behind me because he didn’t believe his eyes’”, Nadia said.

Tine Rostagaard
Chris Poulos