Innovating in the aged care industry

NewDirection Care's MICRO TOWN® community

NewDirection Care’s MICRO TOWN® community recently gained recognition in The New York Times as a progressive aged-care model. Traditional institutions face criticism for profit-driven approaches, prompting innovation for individualised care and independence. In this guest post, NewDirection Care’s CEO Natasha Chadwick advocates for industry-wide transformation and welcomes collaboration to expand their innovative approach across sectors.

NewDirection Care was recently featured in an article for The New York Times alongside other internationally recognised communities such as The Hogeweyk (Netherlands) and Carpe Diem (Norway). This was a break-out moment for me, to see our world-class MICRO TOWN® community recognised and promoted as the future of aged care.  

However, I was disheartened to read the thousands of comments on the article from frustrated, angry and – quite rightfully, hurt family members from around the world who had watched their loved ones suffer in the traditional aged-care institutional model where profits are put before the quality of life and quality of care is compromised through task-focus and role delineation.

Having worked in Aged Care for over 20 years, I have come face to face with the terrible impacts that inadequate care and limited resources can have not just on our ageing community, but also on the people who care for them. There have not been significant innovations in the industry for decades. No other industry would tolerate such inertia, yet aged care is much more important because we are dealing with people’s lives and one day it could be you or I needing this care.

My desire to do something radically different was reinforced by research coming out of universities and Alzheimer’s organisations around the world that revealed that the traditional way of doing things is, frankly, not helpful. People living with Alzheimer’s can thrive when given their freedom and independence.

They do well when they have some control over their lives, are part of a community and live in familiar, home-like surroundings. Understanding this channelled my thoughts into the best ways of making all of this happen for all older Australians who need care, not just for people living with dementia.

What I envisaged when I created our MICRO TOWN® of 17 domestic-style homes that each house with seven residents who live together, was a community that evolved to meet the residents’ needs, as those needs changed with age and abilities. We focus on the individual, recognising each resident’s unique needs, preferences, values, and aspirations so we can support each resident to live a life as independent as they want and that their condition allows. And, I am particularly proud of our team who embody our values of individuality, community, relationships, respect, and empathy; living them in the day-to-day interaction and care of our residents.

Aged care providers have a choice – stay in the crisis mindset that is currently pervading the sector or create the future we want. I’m calling on the industry at large to rethink what aged care can be through innovative service delivery and utilisation of technology. There is just as much risk in keeping the status quo as there is in innovating. NOW is the time for aged care providers to move towards the future and design their built environments and care models around the expectations of consumers. All ageing Australians deserve to receive respect and have the opportunity to live with dignity and independence.

NewDirection Care invites other organisations and/or researchers who wish to see how a new innovative model of care and service can be rolled out to benefit all stakeholders, to contact us and start a conversation.

Our vision is “Where the freedom of home follows you”® and our team makes it more than just words on a page! They live our vision, values, and guiding principles every single day. We are always looking to share our knowledge and to participate in further research to validate the significant benefits we observe for our residents, their loved ones, as well as our team. And it is not limited to aged care, we also believe NewDirection Care’s innovative approach can be applied to any industry and sector. We are a case study of how transformational change is possible.


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