TACSI’s goal in open sourcing Weavers is for organisations to implement the model and adapt it to their context. We are excited to be partnering with Helping Hand (helpinghand.org.au) as the pioneer organisation adapting Weavers for their residential aged care site in Mawson Lakes.

For Helping Hand this was an opportunity to respond to a need which had been identified by their Consumer and Carer Reference Group. This challenged the organisation to do more to support carers through transition points such as when a resident enters residential care or when a resident has to move to a specialist dementia area.

“Moving home is stressful at anytime but moving into residential aged care brings additional challenges. For carers, it can bring relief, guilt, worry, confusion – a whole raft of emotions. While the focus of the staff is on supporting the older person to settle in and start their new routines, the carer also is trying to find their feet. Residential care can be as confusing for them as for the person who has moved in. We also know that many carers already provide informal support to other carers on site. We had been on the Weavers journey with TACSI from the start, so it was natural for us to see the potential of Weavers to both support carers and build on that sense of ‘giving back’ which we see amongst carers” – Helen from Helping Hand Research and Development team.

How we are going about it

Multiple short sessions have been undertaken between Helping Hand and our Weavers implementation team at TACSI that involved:

  • Bringing together key staff from the site and familiarising them with the model, working through any concerns and establishing the desired outcomes for Helping Hand.

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  • Contextualising the 4 key areas that Weavers works on (see image below) to the needs of family carers in residential aged care. This involved listing examples drawing on the experiences of family carers at Mawson Lakes under each key area.

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  • Exploring the journey of family supporting a loved one at Mawson Lakes and identify key points where family carers could benefit from the support of a Weaver, such as the transition into the facility, transition into high care, and end of life care.
  • Adapting the service blue prints – these identify the key roles and activities for a Weaver and the Local Connector. A significant adaptation to the model for Helping Hand is dividing the activities of the Local Connector between a volunteer who has lived experience of caring and a long standing relationship with the Mawson Lakes site and an admin person based at the site.
  • Establishing a plan for starting Weavers at Mawson Lakes. Our role in this next phase involves training the Local Connector and mentoring her through recruiting and training the first group of Weavers.

 

Key learning

Involving key stakeholders across the site early is critical to progress
At times it has been challenging to have the right people in the room at the same time. Not having everyone involved in the beginning required going back to familiarisation activities before being able to progress to the next step. The insights and input of key staff including CRC’s, admission personnel, the volunteer coordinator and the site manager have been critical in identifying the adaptations and creating the conditions for Weavers to be implemented.

The service blueprints are a core tool in making adaptations and planning implementation
Working through the service blueprints with all stakeholders has been key to identifying their needed commitment and the specific tasks they will take on. For example – role of admissions and CRC’s in informing family carer’s about Weavers as an option.

Working through real life scenarios aids implementation
It is important to build the service framework using real life examples that people involved in the implementation can relate to. This is a way to explain in detail what the service is and how it operates – surfacing any concerns, obstacles or adaptations that need to be considered and generating the commitment and enthusiasm to make it happen.

Understanding risks and coming up with potential solutions together
Each implementation context will have it’s own set of risks that only the people involved in the organisation are able to identify. It is key to understand these risks and generate together a set of potential solutions to address them

What next

Helping Hand shared with us their ambition for Weavers within their organization;

“We hope that Weavers, by providing timely and targeted support, will help carers to continue their caring to the extent they want and in the way they want and be able to work in partnership with our staff. We also hope that it will provide an opportunity to give back for those carers who choose to become Weavers”.

TACSI and Helping Hand are now working together on the key activities for Weavers to be operational and supporting carers in Mawson Lakes by January 2017.

Mawson Lakes Residential Services Manager Claire Stone says: “The team at Mawson Lakes is very excited to offer the Weavers program within a residential aged care setting. By offering a service that assists carers to adjust to a new home environment is a wonderful way to start their journey. Building trust and rapport with others through the Weavers program is a vital and integral piece of our service.”