Meet PAT, an online tool to support senior independence

Benetas
Thursday, 16 January, 2020


Meet PAT, an online tool to support senior independence

Victorian not-for-profit aged-care provider Benetas has launched an online resource for older Australians to assess their physical resilience and take steps to stay independent for longer. The self-screening tool means that older Australians will be in a better position to detect and address early signs of frailty before a serious health decline occurs.

The Positive Ageing Tool — also known as PAT — was developed on the back of government-funded research that Benetas undertook in 2018 in conjunction with Monash University.

Benetas General Manager of Quality, Outcomes and Research Dr Catherine Joyce said this is a much-needed tool — one in two Australians aged over 60 years who live in their own home are at risk of a relatively minor health issue triggering serious decline.

“Once that happens, for many there’s no going back,” Dr Joyce said.

“If someone has low physical resilience, a small incident like a fall or virus could be the tipping point that means they’ll no longer be able to live independently in the community.

“We all know someone who has been managing fine, and then an incident which might be minor for other people tips them over into being in need of high care and residential support. This is about getting in early and helping to avoid exactly that,” she said.

The $1.2 million federal government research grant from the Department of Health was designed to find pre-emptive ways for older Australians to better maintain their physical resilience and curb the impact of frailty in the community.

With five simple questions, PAT offers older Australians an evidence-based, user-designed health assessment to monitor physical resilience, coupling this with expert resources to support those in continuing to lead a life they love.

“We recommend that people complete the quick assessment every six months,” Dr Joyce said.

“They seem like simple questions to answer, but collectively, they’re proven to be strong early indicators for risk of serious health decline. Importantly, there are many steps that we can take to stay healthy and resilient whether we’re 60 or going on 90.”

Benetas CEO Sandra Hills OAM said that health promotion and early intervention is exactly where aged care needs to be headed.

“The traditional aged-care services from residential care, home care, clinical and allied health services are all incredibly important, but if we’re going to meet an ageing population, we really need to be at the forefront of early intervention.

“This is about ensuring that people and their families have the information they need well in advance of their health declining. Whether you’re 65 and going for runs or 75 and facing prescription changes, we need people to be monitoring their health, taking proactive steps and not wait until it’s too late.”

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/oneinchpunch

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