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 Pixabay.com

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: Pixabay.com & 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.

1 Comment on “A Winning Active Ageing Approach

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