Focusing on assistive equipment, programs and technology available right now and how to access it. Includes how digital technology features in the caregiver’s role, its connectivity options and how it translates into ageing environments.


Focusing on assistive equipment and technology available right now and how to access it. Includes how digital technology features in the caregiver’s role, its connectivity options and how it translates into ageing environments.


A Winning Active Ageing Approach

A Winning Active Ageing Approach

Written by Kirsty Porter  • 15 August 2016 •

Nurse and Aged Care Enthusiast 

Over the past 12 months, you may have seen increased media exposure about how improving physical health and incorporating winning healthy active ageing principles can improve cognitive function in later life. 

Not unexpected right? But what about in an aged care facility?


I mean Plato put it out there in the 3rd Century BC (yes, BC!) when he said

“Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.”

According to 21st Century experts at the World Health Organisation, the British Heart Foundation and Stamford University advocate inactivity in older adults is the highest contributor to the rapid challenges faced by pubic health systems globally. In fact, Kohl (2012) contributes inactivity as the 4th highest causes of death.



Many researchers all over the world (Taylor, Singh & King) are imploring policy makers to promote moderate intensity resistance exercise (for more than 150 minutes each week) to impact overall primary health care costs. Taylor goes further to say that these levels of physical activity will reduce heart disease by 50%, while Henwood (here & here) presents that an increase in physical activity later in life will significantly affect symptoms of dementia and reduce falls!



To date, only a small number of aged care providers have picked up on these resistance exercise ideas and proficiently incorporated them into their funding and business models.


As with any hot new innovation in the aged care sector, providers are asking, “how can we share the same success?”


Read on to find out which award winning aged care provider in Australia is kicking goals by investing in a modern wellness centre that is designed to preserve the cognitive health of residents, staff and, more recently, the community in which they operate. And be sure to check out the video at the end of the post.



An Award Winning Healthy Ageing Wellness Centre


Awarding Winning Healthy ageing service
Source: Authors own. Adapted

The Society of Saint Hilarion Inc. Aged Care, is an award-winning residential aged care organisation with some serious organisational agility!  See their Facebook profile @sthilarionswellnesscentre


Having received awards and recognition from major Australian peak bodies, Saint Hilarion is now seen as a blueprint for cognitive preservation strategies and healthy ageing principles.


They achieved this status by understanding and investing in the best old-age specific gym technology on the market; not least because it is backed by A LOT of research but because it suited the needs of their residents. (Check out this technology at Helsinki University Research (HUR) website here.) But this post is about breaking the mould, not about the technology – that’s for another post.  


So why did they do it?


Instead of accepting the familiar expense that functional disability and physical inactivity was having on their business model, Saint Hilarion completely turned their business model on its head and considered how a service centred on healthy ageing concepts could improve their residents’ quality of life, as well as their bottom line. The management team collaborated, using up-to-date evidence based research, to create a novel wellness model that focuses on ‘re-ablement’ innovations and cognitive health strategies.



wellness centre, active, ageing
Source: Authors own

The result was the development of a Wellness Centre and it incorporated all five elements identified for improved cognitive function (more about these elements here).


Headed up by their lead healthy ageing advocate, physiotherapist Mr. Frank Naso, they completely overhauled the way they responded to aged caring and ageing choices.


The Wellness Centre concept sat perfectly within their existing philosophy, and inside two years their seemingly expensive risk had paid off.   They’d experienced extraordinary returns on investment with far-reaching, non-tangible benefits that will pay out for years to come.


Saint Hilarion Wellness Centre
Source: Authors own with permission

Recently, Frank presented the outcomes of their cognitive preservation strategies at the 2016 World Congress of Active Ageing in Melbourne, Australia.  And a collective gasp from the audience was clearly heard as he presented their staggering results!


Decrease In Resident Challenging Behaviours


He presented a 89% decrease in resident challenging behaviours; a dramatic increase in satisfaction surveys from 64% to 98%; a marked reduction in staff turnover; and further, they were enjoying sky high community volunteer levels.



And while Saint Hilarion’s results are spectacular in reducing dementia related behaviours, the organisation has also successfully extended the business model to include staff participation, their families and the local community.

wellness centre, active, ageing
Source: Authors own with permission



This has resulted in generous investment returns and continues to inspire more innovative healthy ageing opportunities, which has no doubt left a positive and lasting cognitive footprint on every resident, employee and community member that has had the pleasure of using the facilities at Saint Hilarion.


A Perfect Example of the Cognitive Footprint Model


These cognitive preservation strategies are exactly what the World Health Organisation and the 2013 G8 Dementia Summit are referring to and Saint Hilarion have framed the cognitive footprint model perfectly. Further, they have successfully responded to the needs of their changing environment and now have a significant level of organisational agility to withstand any future government policy reform. Read why cognitive preservation in aged care is essential for organisational agility.



This account of the successes achieved by The Society of Saint Hilarion has been written to help begin the conversation with your age care management team about the impacts cognitive preservation strategies can have on your organisation.


Good Luck and let me know how you go.  


Written By Kirsty Porter


I love hearing about new aged care innovations,  send me a message so I can follow your journey. x


Please comment if this article has inspired you to promote change and share with others by clicking your favourite social media icons below.


Feature Photo: & adapted by Kirsty Porter

I’ve also written two other articles on this subject that might be helpful;


  1. The Cognitive Footprint Model
  2. Why cognitive preservation in aged care is ESSENTIAL for organisational agility.

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Introducing  AgeFit Solutions  and founder Dr. Tim Henwood.



If you or your organisation need help to bring an innovative wellness option into your aged care service, then contact Tim.


He truly has the experience and know how to improve the lives of your clients or staff.

Click photo for video advert!


Dr. Tim Henwood is a leader in exercise physiology and has a great deal of experience delivering innovative wellness options for people with complex health needs, including dementia, for Australian aged care community services and residential facilities.  


Dr. Henwood has published over 30 articles on the long term physiological and cognitive benefits of active ageing initiatives.  He is strongly linked to the active ageing successes at Bernie Brae and also the dementia focused Watermemories Swimming Club.


And he’s a really nice guy.  Give him a call.


Who is The Age Of Senescence?

Who Is The Age Of Senescence?

My name is Kirsty Porter and I’ve created The Age of Senescence to share my journey to discover how different countries and cultures around the world are responding to the needs of an ageing population.


I am a qualified nurse in Australia and have been working in the aged care industry for most of my career, both in Australia and the UK. In recent years, I’ve seen how the ageing population in Australia is impacting the nursing profession; and more specifically in residential aged care facilities. It has become obvious to me that the continuous strive for nursing excellence is marred by the more complex needs of the ageing client and their family, as well as increasingly onerous industry regulation.


Why Was The Age of Senescence Created?


I have observed an increasing number of people admitted to residential aged care facilities with greater and more chronically advanced care needs. Family members appear more exhausted from having played the caregivers role for longer than they could cope with or recover from. Staffing morale in aged care facilities is inconsistent between organisations; often resulting in unmanageable turnover rates, and this is leading to increasing difficulties in maintaining adequate, appropriate qualified and experienced staff levels (Dr. Booker researches this at length). Even more concerning is the decreasing government funding to these facilities. It just doesn’t make sense to me. Surely with a greater demand there is opportunity for industry growth? With indelible determination to find out more, in 2014 I enrolled in a Post Graduate in Aged Services Management.


A Post Grad. No big deal. I just wanted to dip my toe in and see what this aged care industry was really all about. However, I came away even more concerned, frustrated and somewhat obsessive about an industry that is crying out for reform. My Post Grad is central to my new transformational ideas, but industry boundaries are prohibitive. Broadly, I want to integrate nonlinearity complex adaptive systems into an age care system that is, quite frankly, limited by sovereign decree.


Hang on, stay with me.


Plainly speaking, I had acquired ‘space-age’ ideas but had no platform to launch them from. And I was annoyed.


But, it was the little mathematical ratio, illustrated in my picture below that really opened my eyes up to the future of age care.


Retired People verses the Working Population Ratio in Australia

Photo by Kirsty Jane


The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare predicts that by 2050, Australia’s economy will have nearly half the number of people in the workforce supporting the health and welfare of an ageing population that is twice as big as it is today. And that means we, as a society, need to think outside the box if we all want quality retirement choices and a quality end of life care.


I then compared Australia with other developed countries, and the results are similar.  Japan is the most concerning comparison as seen in this adaption below.

Japan working ratio


Our choices for retirement will be, fiscally speaking, reduced. Indeed, the ‘ageing population problem’, that has been so eloquently projected by academics and policy writers alike, suddenly became very real to me. In 2050, I’ll be in my seventies and dare I say it, an economic statistic. I despair as I watch my young children play at my feet, how our retirement life will affect them and their choices?


‘Space-age’ ideas anyone?


Knowing what I know about the aged care sector, I cannot shake the question;


“How are we going to care for each other in the future when, by today’s standards, the system is already over stressed?”


Then the most magical things started happening to me.


Over a period of 2 years, I received messages, web links, books, watched movies and documentaries, witnessed digital disruption, found newspaper clippings, was invited to events and listened to podcasts about people and communities all over the world who were inadvertently answering my question. There were small groups of people proactive in challenging the status quo of getting old, being dependent or living with chronic disabilities. In fact, there were people influencing whole societies to change the way they approached ‘ageing well’ principles and traditional aged care options. And what’s more, they were succeeding!




For instance, a brilliant doctor in Leiden, The Netherlands started the ‘re-socialisation’ Alzheimer’s Caféphenomena; now hailing over 1,000 operating sites in Europe, UK, America, Ireland, Canada and Australia.


Or another example of a Canadian man who, while planning digital music to be included in his own aged care, inadvertently went on to inspire the Music and Memory project that is now widespread in nursing homes across the US, Canada and Australia.


And finally, a woman from Minnesota, USA who was so devastated by the experience of caring for her own mother’s dementia symptoms, went on to build the nationally renowned ‘Lakeview Ranch Model of Specialised Dementia Care’.


There are other smaller examples too, but certainly no less significant. A residential aged care home in Germany created a ‘front of house’ pseudo bus-stop in response to curbing residents with Alzheimer from wandering too far from the facility.


But more on these in future articles.


From all these examples and more, I have learnt just how one person’s idea can impact a whole age care industry, its productivity potential, its commercial outcomes, inspire project enterprises in neighboring countries and, most importantly, it can affect inter-generational socialisation and participation!


Ordinary People with Extraordinary Ideas


People around the world are quite literally bringing the elder generation, especially the most isolated, out of their homes and back into society. What is most alluring is that these are ordinary people, creating extraordinary ideas, and drawing inspiration from the very problems they have encountered while navigating their own cultural aged care system. Interestingly, and more often then not, these ideas have actually created enterprise and business opportunity. Certainly, this is an economic win!

Pieces of the Puzzle

And so it is here that The Age of Senescence is born.


What is The Age of Senescence?


My aim is to create a directory, of sorts, that brings all these stories of innovation, participation and productivity together; with the sole intention to encourage other communities to replicate.


So I have dared myself to stare down the rabbit hole, and teach myself about digital technology, website building, social media and ecommerce. Hilariously, my first Google search was: “What is a domain name?”; a low starting point indeed. And so it begins….


I am not an academic, a doctor or even a recognised specialist in my field. Nor am I a journalist, a representative of an organisation or a government official.  But I do however have 20 dynamic years of nursing, sales and marketing experience in both Australia and the United Kingdom, predominately in the aged care. And as I face this new self-imposed career direction with enthusiasm, my writing will undoubtedly come from the heart.  I will certainly be guided by you, the audience, while I navigate this vast space I have created for myself.


How Will The Age Of Senescence Work?


Fully enchanted by people who have had the courage to create, the grit to develop and the persistence to launch such creative ageing ideas, I’m inspired to do the same. And now, having created the medium to connect with you, I don’t just want to talk about it; I want to write about it, video it, link it to you, try to emulate it, photograph it and display it here, on The Age of Senescence, to inspire others to see how global communities and organisations are responding to the needs of their ageing population.


Further, through the wonders of digital technology, the genre of blogging and the fashion of social media, we can now communicate and truly connect with like minded people from our own homes.


The Age of Senescence invites you to journey with me as I discover, share and document new responsive technology, literature, innovation and services for the ageing population.   And also, ideas about who is inspiring it and why.   But more importantly, to instill belief that you too can replicate and develop these ideas into your own ageing community.


I would love to hear from you, especially if you are currently in the throws of navigating your own age care system.


How has the competition for aged care provision affected or improved the quality, access, participation or equity of services in your community or country?


Thank you,



Kirsty Porter
Nurse and Aged Care Enthusiast



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Ordinary people around the world are creating extraordinary ageing solutions