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In the third episode of our 6-part special edition series of the Voice of Aged Care podcast, we will discuss the impact of burnout on you and the workplace, looking at the differences between stress and burnout, what happens to our brains when we are under stress, how to notice the common thinking traps, as well as some strategies for seeking support for burnout. 

When it comes to our mental health, it can be tricky to know when we need support. When we look at stress, we can view it as a good thing, as it helps to propel us into action, keep us on track and motivate us. A little bit of stress is okay, but we don’t want it to get to high levels where it feels overwhelming, as this can lead to burnout.

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In this episode we will look at how we define resilience, the building blocks of resilience, self-awareness and action, and identifying what matters the most. In previous episodes we have discussed wellbeing in late life and how you can best support your clients in detail – so I wanted to shift the focus onto the factors that influence those who work within aged care, as it can be quite challenging. In this context, the topic of resilience can be closely related with the intention to stay at work, as historically, turnover rates within the aged care workforce are alarmingly high. In this episode I will share some tools and strategies that you can turn to if you feel like things are not okay.

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Over the past few years we have all felt the impacts of change, from global events like COVID and world conflicts, to the far-reaching impacts of the cost of living. Change and uncertainty is affecting many people, and is an inevitable part of our daily lives – nothing stays the same. In aged care specifically, the changes have been widespread, including new regulations, new policies, new funding models, as well the localised changes that often occur, such as dealing with a new manager, new colleagues, new role, new site, supporting new clients and the grief and loss of clients no longer with us. 

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If you are considering getting into the aged care industry, it can be hard to know where to start. So in this episode I share 5 essential considerations that will set you up for a rewarding career in aged care. With the aging population here in Australia and across the world, a career in aged care offers many diverse opportunities. 

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Diversional therapist Lauretta Kaldor is true pioneer in her field, and has a wealth of wisdom and knowledge to share. She realised early that it was very important to adapt the activities to suit – the challenge was to produce activities that were adult and not childish, but could be completed and enjoyed by older people with varying abilities. With no resources available at the time to guide her, Lauretta was forced to discover herself which activities to do, through a process of trial and error. 

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For those who work in aged care or care for elders in their home, it can be difficult to know when and where to escalate concerns about client wellbeing. This applies to concerns about the wellbeing of the person’s family and your colleagues too. While I do talk about this at the end of my training programs, I think it is a really important topic that needs to be discussed in its own right. So in this episode, we’ll explore when and where to escalate concerns about the wellbeing of your clients, their families and your colleagues.

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People resort to lying for so many different reasons. Often we lie to avoid punishment or to protect ourselves or someone else. We may also lie to maintain our privacy or to avoid embarrassment. In this episode, the focus is on therapeutic lying, particularly in dementia care.

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Earlier in the year I was lucky enough to meet Teepa Snow, one of the leading educators on dementia, and attend her half-day workshop. I came away with many valuable new learnings and insights, so in this episode, I am sharing three key takeaways from the day.

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In work and life, you are sure to encounter tricky people at times. In this episode I want to talk about the four main types of tricky people you are likely to encounter in the workplace, and share some strategies to help you recognise what is going on so you can address these interpersonal challenges.

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While I was at Uni, my PhD examined the concept of emotional contagion. But what exactly does this mean?

It relates closely to this question I was recently asked by a client: How does the positive attitude of staff influence the atmosphere and world of residents in aged care?

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A topic that comes up often in my work is death and dying. There’s no doubt it can be difficult to talk about and process, and we all have our own way of dealing with grief and finding closure. It is important to find what works best for you, so in this episode I want to share some ideas, strategies and an affirmation that have really helped me.  

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In this episode I chat with a very special guest, Sue Dawson, who is a chaplain working in a retirement village and residential care facility, and a facilitator of the Wellness Adventure program. Sue is uniquely positioned to help those transitioning from the retirement village into aged care, as well as support their partners who remain in the village, providing a sense of continuity in this time of change. 

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A beautiful retirement village I first visited over a decade ago is going through a significant change. The site is being redeveloped, with the existing single storey villas being knocked down and replaced with high rise apartments.

So what does being uprooted mean to the residents and workers?

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We all have different coping styles, and we’ve all been exposed to different types of stress in our lives. So how do we understand the coping styles used in late life and what we can do about it? Stress is a normal part of life, and coping is what people do to try and minimise stress. We all find different ways of coping with stress, and managing it, often through trial and error. Even when we are dealing with the same stress we all find different ways of coping that we feel will work for us at that time.

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At a recent event, a renowned psychiatrist, said something that struck a chord with me: It’s not about the tools, it’s about who will take us through them.

In other words, it’s not about resources – it’s about who will use them, how they will use them, and importantly, what happens to the information the resources provide?

 

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I get a lot of emails from people asking about the signs and steps to psychological support in late life. For example, maybe you’ve identified that a client or family member needs help, but are unsure of the next step. An older person may say they don’t need help, even if they do. This age group is the least likely to engage support, often because they don’t understand the benefits.

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What is the difference between sadness and depression? And how do we know if an older person is experiencing one or the other? In this episode we explore the difference between sadness, a characteristic of depression, but not a diagnosis in itself. Sadness can be experienced by everyone, and in late life there may be a number of contributing factors.

 

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Loneliness and isolation are common in late life and two terms used interchangeably, yet there are not the same. Sometimes loneliness and isolation are normalised as part of ageing, and more recently with the pandemic and restrictions associated with COVID-19, isolation is attributed to minimising the risk of infection and spread of the virus.  So, how do we define them?

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Working in aged care is rewarding but can also be challenging. The last two years have been particularly difficult with increased work demands. In this episode we discuss the importance of examining this topic, organisational support and involving the workforce in the quality and improvement process.

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In this episode we discuss the challenges of experiencing client turnover in aged care. We will cover communication styles, resilience building activities and the importance of self-care strategies.

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If you are supporting an older person chances are they have experienced a loss. It may be necessarily be the loss of a loved one, it could the loss of independence, value, role and meaning. In this episode we discuss strategies how to support clients with multiple losses.

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Professionally most of us are okay in discussing grief with our clients. However, when we are affected by workplace grief ourselves we may find it difficult to know what is okay to say or do. In this episode we discuss how we as professionals cope when a client passes away and strategies we can develop to help us through this journey.

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Grief is commonly misunderstood, perceived to be a mental health condition and something which can make many people uncomfortable. In this episode we explore grief - what it is and how it impacts the elderly. In late life grief is not always associated with the loss of a loved one or fear of one's own death. 

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Working in aged care presents unique challenges as workplace is often the older person's home, either privately owned or in residential care.
Being present both physically and psychologically is important for those who work in aged care and having a heavy workload can lead to stress and burnout.

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In this episode Dr Julie is in the Hot Seat as we get to know the host. 
Julie shares how moving to a new country where she didn’t speak English at the age of 11 has impacted her interest in communication and connection, as well as the special connection she had with older people from a young age.

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Julie speaks with experienced Clinical Nurse Consultant, Kelly Arthurs, a Registered Nurse who specialises in Palliative Care. It’s a very important topic that is often not discussed openly in Aged Care because people don’t know how to ask the right questions or what to say or do, and Kelly has great insights to share.

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Julie speaks with Jo Muirhead, a Rehabilitation Consultant and the leader of Purple and Co. Jo tells Julie about her Great Aunt Gwen, a bit about her life story and some of the challenges as she aged and moved into care, as well as why she was so influential in Jo’s life. Jo also explores some of the stereotypes about older people being grumpy, judgemental and technologically challenged.

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Julie speaks with Reverend Ron Baker, who is almost 90-years old and lives in a residential aged care facility in Australia. Ron has a wealth of knowledge and experience in a wide range of topics and he has first-hand experience of how COVID19 has impacted those living in residential aged care facilities.

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In this episode Julie speaks with Donna Valantis, a Diversional Therapist who works as a Leisure and Lifestyle Coordinator. Julie and Donna discuss what Diversional Therapists do, and the differences between a Diversional Therapist, Leisure and Lifestyle Coordinator and a Recreational Activities Officer.

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Julie speaks with Professor Sunil Bhar about the Swinburne National Telehealth Counselling & Support Service for Aged Care. Julie and Sunil discuss why it’s important to be training and up-skilling psychologists to work in Aged Care.

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In this episode, Julie speaks with Maurie Voisey-Barlin, a Creative Engagement Specialist. Maurie and Julie discuss the role of Creative Therapeutic Engagement Specialists, what he does with older adults and how he has been supporting his peers and clients during COVID.

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In this episode Julie speaks with Del Marie McAlister, a leisure and lifestyle consultant who has worked in Aged Care for a long time now. Del also has a background as a chaplain and volunteer coordinator, as well as in grief counselling and freelance journalism so she has many skills to bring to her work.

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Brief episode to wrap up Season #1. We don't often talk about Residential Care because most of Australians live in their own homes.
Fact: it's only 5% that live in Residential Aged Care environments. So often this population is forgotten about and we don't necessarily hear positive stories. And my aim was to communicate the various psychosocial benefits that can be delivered to older people whose physical health is declining.

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Julie speaks with Jenny Blok, who has worked as a Chaplain for 12 years and now manages a team of Chaplains and Pastoral Care Volunteers to support older people both in residential settings and in their homes. Jenny shares how she came to work in Aged Care as a Chaplain, as well as what spiritual care is and who it’s for. Chaplains provide not only religious care but also other areas of spirituality and connection, such as creativity and gardening.

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In this episode, Julie makes the case for taking care of you as a person who supports older adults in Aged Care. The best outcomes for you, for older people, for families and for management are when we all work together. However, that ultimately comes down to you taking care of yourself and recognising what you may need to do more, or less, of in order to be well.

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Julie speaks with Liz Kraefft, a qualified yoga teacher. Liz shares how she incorporates relaxation in her yoga sessions and what guided relaxation is. She explains the benefits of guided relaxation practices, and why people often struggle getting started with this practice. Listen to find out more about this topic.

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Julie discusses the important role of families in helping an older person settle into the Aged Care home, as well as the different ways facilities will involve residents’ families. There are many things that can impact the dynamics of the relationships an older person has with their families, and there are also a number of things that can enhance that to help the resident settle into Aged Care and support them going forwards.

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Julie speaks with Bob Creelman, a qualified chaplain, scientist, engineer and volunteer. Bob has been running Men’s Groups in Aged Care Facilities for over a decade and he shares a bit about his background and how he came to be doing this work. Bob explains some of the challenges for older men in Aged Care, the types of discussions had, how the sessions are structured and what he calls ‘The Miracle of Men’s Group’.

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Julie speaks with Trish Carlier, a volunteer dog visitor in Aged Care Facilities. Trish volunteers with Delta Society, a not-for-profit organisation that is supported by volunteers and their family pets. Trish explains how she became a volunteer dog visitor and what her visits with Golden Retriever Jazzy to Aged Care Facilities are like. Trish also shares a bit about the process of becoming a volunteer dog visitor, including requirements for the dog as well as requirements for the owner/trainer.

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Julie discusses the often neglected and forgotten topic of older people’s strengths and why we need to incorporate them into Aged Care contexts. We tend to focus on diagnoses and what the restrictions or physical and cognitive limitations a person has. However, it’s important to take a step back and look at the strengths and capabilities of people so that we can help them maintain those skills, and maybe even learn new skills.

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Julie speaks with Toni Salter, a qualified horticulturist and recreational activities officer who is also known as The Veggie Lady. Toni shares her journey of using gardening as a kind of therapy in her own life, and how she went from pre-occupation to occupation!
Julie and Toni discuss what Nature-Assisted Therapy is and its role in physical and mental rehabilitation, and the benefits as well as the challenges of engaging individuals in in gardening as they age. Toni shares some tips on how to facilitate ongoing Nature-Assisted Therapy in residential Aged Care Facilities, things to consider for staff development and training, plus the role of families in supporting and encouraging gardening into older adults.

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Julie explains the benefits of reminiscence as a powerful non-pharmacological intervention to wellbeing, especially for older adults in aged care environments.
Julie shares the main requirements you need to be able to engage with reminiscence—time, interest and listening skills—as well as the other attributes that are good to have such as empathising, attending, relating sensitively, being non-judgmental and not being frightened by the expression of painful emotions.

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In this episode Julie defines what a mental health condition is and shares a case study of an older person who moves into an Aged Care Facility. This case study demonstrates the type of symptoms that this woman had and how she came about to seek psychological support.
Julie also explains the support this person receives and highlights the importance of working together with families and staff members to improve the wellbeing in older people in residential care.

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Julie speaks with Joanna Haire about her journey to become a Music Therapist and the numerous benefits music therapy offers across the lifespan but especially for the wellbeing of older populations. Joanna explains the difference between Music Therapy and music for entertainment, and a bit about her process for structuring both group and individual sessions.
Joanna and Julie discuss the discuss the successes they have seen as a result of Music Therapy in Aged Care and the different reasons Aged Care Facilities would contact a Music Therapist. 

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Julie speaks about the very important topic of mental health for older people, and the question of who is responsible for the mental health of older people. If a young person is experiencing depression and anxiety, and getting support for their mental health, there is a perception that it is up to the client as to what they do between consultations. Is it the same principle in older people? Listen in to find out.

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Julie speaks with Michelle and Mike, the founders of the Love to Live Program that runs in aged care facilities to entertain residents and that provides a number of others benefits too. Michelle tells us how the program came to be, stemming from a personal story involving her mother-in-law, as well as a bit about how the program runs.
Mike and Michelle then share some of the benefits of the Love to Live Program for residents in Aged Care Facilities, and some of the success stories that have come from it.

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Julie speaks with Jenny Cole about her work as a Speech Pathologist in the Aged Care Sector. Jenny shares what she does and how speech pathology works in the Aged Care setting. Jenny and Julie discuss the role of Speech Pathology in palliative care, as well as the recent changes that have occurred due to the new standards. 

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In this episode we learn about art therapy by speaking with Roxy Taylor about her journey to become an Art Therapist and why she chose to pursue the career within the Aged Care Sector. Roxy shares how the process unfolds, which residents will take part and why it’s such a valuable and important activity to be offering in Aged Care Facilities. Roxy and Julie discuss the impact of art therapy on residents, including on residents with vision impairment, dementia and other conditions. 

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Welcome to the first episode of the Voice of Aged Care. This episode covers a bit about the podcast and what information you’ll hear in the upcoming episodes. The Voice of Aged Care will offer you tips and tricks on improving service delivery without complexity and overwhelm. Each episode will include information that is inspirational, provides you with insider knowledge and real experiences and most importantly, it will be described in easy to understand ways so that it’s not overwhelming or confusing.

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