Reframing care and re-ablement through Sona

BallyCara has launched a new institute to assist organisations across the aged care, home care and retirement village sectors interested in joining its Sona community.

The philosophy behind Sona is one of enablement and happiness, which comes from helping others to identify and achieve personal goals, says the Director of Sona Institute, Michael Isaac.

Recognising the benefit and potential of this philosophy, BallyCara has established the Sona Institute and is seeking to build a community of like-minded organisations working across all industries.

“Sona, which is pronounced ‘sauna’, is the Gaelic word for happiness and helping people to find happiness is what we are all about,” Mr Isaac said.

“I am often asked if Sona is a model of care, and the answer is no. Sona is a philosophy and framework, centred around positive psychology, that guides how we engage with others.  Such a framework can help any model of care thrive and succeed.”

“Often people need to be convinced to share their goals, but once they understand that you really do want to help them get there, we see renewed determination and sense of purpose.”

“The philosophy behind Sona has natural synergies with any care setting – aged care, disability or hospitals, it has a brilliant application in consumer-directed care. Increasingly we are seeing interest from other service-based industries centred around interactions between people. This includes gyms, coaching and recruitment companies, and sales-led industries.”

BallyCara first introduced Sona to its residential aged care community seven years ago, followed by all service streams including home and community care, wellness programs and retirement living. It was then rolled out to the organisation’s staff and leaders with positive results.

“Over that time has seen a shift not only in our organisational culture but in the overall wellbeing of our residents and clients,” Mr Isaac said.

“By focusing on what people can do and helping them to set and achieve goals irrespective of their frailty or disability, as well as encouraging people to support one another, BallyCara is reframing the meaning of care and reablement.”

Due to the success of Sona across BallyCara’s services, the Australian Government funded independent academic research undertaken over four years by the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).  This research recognised the power of positive psychology and the methodologies behind Sona.

BallyCara is now seeking other providers interested in join the Sona community to share their knowledge, skills and experience with one another.

“Through the Sona Institute we want to create a community for services, where we can work with others who share the philosophy to meet their own values. For care providers and other small businesses that are toiling away seemingly on their own, becoming part of the Sona community will mean access to support from people in similar situations.

“One of the difficulties of being unique business of any type or even being an innovator in a larger group of businesses can be that feeling that you’re on your own.  You plug away trying to work out what your customers want and then find a way to get as close as possible to that target – often wondering where you could find support,” Mr Isaac said.

“Sometimes the senior staff in regional businesses around the countryside haven’t had a decent break for some time simply because there’s no-one to hold the fort.

“I envisage that if a key member of staff needs to take a break they can, knowing that through the Sona Institute someone will help to keep an eye on things while they are away,” Mr Isaac said.

“The ripple effect of positivity is not to be underestimated, and by working together we are all a step closer to creating happy and supported communities.”


  1. I met the team from Sona Care at the National Elder Abuse Conference in Brisbane. “The ripple effect of positivity is not to be underestimated, and by working together we are all a step closer to creating happy and supported communities.” – How true is this !

    I love the philosophy behind Sona. There is a lot of great people and organisations doing amazing work but it is about pulling together to.

    A great article


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