How To Implement Reablement

Elements of effective reablement 

We have produced a tip sheet with examples which you may find useful. Click the document below to review and download the PDF.

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Assessment and goal-setting in effective reablement

One of the core principles of implementing effective reablement is the creation of a realistic support plan. This follows an active assessment that observes the clients’ current abilities in all aspects of daily living and involves them in identifying the outcomes or goals they would like to achieve. 

It is important that the focus is on activities that the person identifies as important. The person would be asked, ‘What are the most important activities in your life right now?’  

Goals can range from very small improvements to more complicated activities to help a person recover skills, confidence and independence.  

They are likely to relate to:  

There is a need to review a person’s progress on a regular basis in order to maintain improvement – revisit goals and amend as necessary. If all goals have been achieved, support doesn’t need to continue for the full allocated time of the reablement period.

Senior lady knitting
It is important that the focus is on activities that the person identifies as important

Reablement Interventions 

Reablement support can include rebuilding capacity to do previous activities, adapting to a different way of doing an activity and/or using equipment as a means of support. It can also assist people to connect back to their community and take ownership of key areas of their lives. 

The methods used can be split into two categories: 

  1. Restorative: the learning or re-learning of skills or behaviours, restoring capacity, improving confidence and increasing motivation. Increasing physical and cognitive capacity and strength to re-engage with previous activities.
  2. Compensatory: finding a way around a difficulty, including adapting the environment and/or using assistive technology/equipment.

Below are some examples of how these methods could be used: 

Increasing physical activity and building strength

Loss of muscle power due to normal ageing (sarcopenia) has greater functional impact than loss of strength alone. Physical activity is known to be important for improving and maintaining function, (including cognition) among older adults.

There is a strong relationship between high levels of cardiovascular fitness and good health. Any activity or exercise that improves cardiovascular fitness may be beneficial, including day-to-day activities such as housework and gardening.

Older adults can improve their health by improving cardiovascular fitness. This imparts benefit even if starting from a low level of cardiovascular fitness. It is recommended to slowly build up and increase movement and activity levels daily.

Click the graphic to open the PDF document.

Demonstrate alternative ways of carrying out tasks 

When putting on a shirt or blouse, always put the weaker arm or the arm with the least amount of movement into the sleeve first.  

When doing laundry, put wet clothes in a trolley and wheel to the clothesline.

When vacuuming, try moving slowly and pushing the vacuum cleaner in front with the handle resting against one hip. Set the vacuum to the correct height.

Show how to use energy wisely

Plan ahead. Balance heavier activities with lighter activities. Where necessary balance activity with rest periods, spread activities throughout the day. Organise the timing of activities to optimise energy levels. Rest effectively. Rest before becoming tired. Do the activity in ‘bite-sized’ chunks.

Advise sitting to carry out an activity such as preparing vegetables if standing for a period is difficult. Work at appropriate heights. Store frequently used items between knee and shoulder level.

For household activities such as vacuuming, consider doing when energy levels are at their optimum. i.e in the morning or if experiencing pain undertake the activity at a time when any stiffness or pain is reduced.

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Use equipment to support independence 

Assistive technology can help people maintain independence and stay in their own homes as long as they wish to do so. It does this by:

Typical assistive technology that may be used within reablement include:  

Click on the document images below to open each PDF.

To view more, visit our ‘Support Workers guide to Assistive Technology (AT) and Equipment’ page.

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Support worker help sheet for bathroom 1
Practical help to reduce social isolation and promote choice 

Staying social connected can become more difficult in later life due to retirement, impact of chronic disease, reduced mobility and the death of spouses and friends.

Support the development of new social networks in the community or re-establish and maintain existing ones.  Consider leisure and recreational activities and volunteer programs to increase social activity and connections.