Introducing reablement: Themed ITP

The Knowledge and Implementation Hub has brought together information and resources to support a special themed Innovator Training Program (ITP) on introducing reablement approaches into aged care. These resources will help ITP participants increase their knowledge of reablement and the factors to be considered in implementing this approach into an organisation. They can be used in conjunction with the learning materials provided by the ITP which cover more general processes around change management.

Two further themed ITP rounds are planned for the coming months. These focus on workforce retention strategies (October 2023) and delivering nutritious and appetising food and drinks to people in aged care.

What is reablement?

This short module describes the key aspects of reablement and is the place to start if the concept of reablement is new to you.

Reablement uses a goal-directed, person-centred approach to care that helps older people regain, maintain and/or improve their independence. [1] Reablement approaches deliver significant benefits in aged care. For older people, they can provide a sense of purpose and improve autonomy and feelings of self-worth. [2] Aged care workers who integrate reablement approaches into their care may get greater job satisfaction by actively helping older people to become more independent. [3]

There are many tools available to support reablement approaches in aged care. The organisational self-assessment tool may be useful to provide an overview of the elements you might need to adopt a reablement approach into your service. Completing the organisation culture checklist may also help to understand how wellness and reablement can be embedded into your service.  

Implementing a reablement approach  

Implementing reablement into aged care requires an organisational or cultural shift from the traditional ‘caregiver’ view where older people are considered ‘passive care recipients,’ to a supportive service approach that encourages and empowers older adults to do things for themselves and regain any lost independence. [1] Before you introduce a reablement philosophy to care into your service, consider the six following core elements of the approach.  

A person-centred approach

Each older person accessing an aged care service brings a diverse range of needs and challenges. Some individuals may be deconditioned and in need of support to relearn essential skills, while others might be coping with reduced cognitive or sensory abilities, necessitating specific strategies to assist them in performing everyday tasks. It is crucial to approach each older person as a unique individual to gain a comprehensive understanding of their specific requirements and aspirations. This understanding forms the foundation for providing tailored support and assistance that empowers people to achieve their goals and enhance their overall wellbeing. 

Function-focused reablement

An older person’s level of functional ability is defined by their physical, cognitive, social, and emotional capabilities. [4, 5] Function-focused reablement supports older people to develop or relearn the skills required to function independently and to do the activities they enjoy. [6] 

Social connectedness

Ensuring older people are connected to their community and have social interactions with others is an important part of reablement. Physical and psychological limitations can isolate older people from others. Paradoxically, successful reablement programs may also increase the risk of social isolation and loneliness as people with regained independence are perceived as needing less support from care services, family, and friends to achieve everyday tasks. [6]

Environments that support reablement

Creating a safe and accessible environment that promotes physical, social, emotional, and cognitive improvement is crucial for fostering independence and successful reablement. The layout and design of residential aged care facilities and individuals’ homes may require modifications to promote safe and positive experiences of reablement. [7] 

Evidence-based reablement approaches

Reablement programs should draw on high-quality evidence that demonstrates benefits for aged care workers, older people, and their families. [4] Evidence-based reablement approaches are those that have been evaluated and proven to promote independence and personal wellbeing. They should also be person-centred and improve the quality and safety of care delivered to older people.

 An equipped workforce

For reablement approaches to be successfully implemented into aged care, it is important that care workers understand the purpose and benefits of reablement and have easy access to the equipment needed to enact it. Aged care providers and leaders within specific organisations may need to evaluate the culture of their organisation and invest in communicating the importance and value of reablement. They should also consider the training needs of staff and how the organisation will empower its workforce to support reablement.

Before introducing a reablement approach into an aged care service, the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care recommends preparing your organisation. Start by assessing your organisation’s potential to deliver wellness and reablement. You can find the Toolkit for embedding wellness into your organisation here. Alternatively, the resources below may assist you to consider how to introduce and support reablement approaches within your organisation.


Connect to PubMed evidence

If you wish to find out more about reablement in aged care, try using one of the PubMed searches below. These links (all or full text) take you to the relevant research literature in the large international PubMed database.

  1. Maxwell H, Bramble M, Prior SJ, Heath A, Reeves NS, Marlow A, et al. Staff experiences of a reablement approach to care for older people in a regional Australian community: A qualitative study. Health Soc Care Community. 2021;29(3):685-693.  
  2. Mulquiny L, Oakman J. Exploring the experience of reablement: A systematic review and qualitative evidence synthesis of older people's and carers' views. Health Soc Care Community. 2022;30(5):e1471-e1483.
  3. Department of Health and Aged Care (Australia). Commonwealth Home Support Programme: Program manual 2023-2024 [Internet]. Canberra, ACT: DoHAC; 2018 [updated 2023 Jun; cited 2023 Aug 2]. Available from: 
  4. Poulos CJ, Poulos RG. A function-focused approach in primary care for older people with functional decline: Making the most of reablement and restorative care. Aust J Gen Pract. 2019;48(7):434-439.  
  5. World Health Organization. World report on ageing and health [Internet]. Geneva: WHO; 2015 [cited 2023 Jul 28]. Available from:  
  6. Aspinal F, Glasby J, Rostgaard T, Tuntland H, Westendorp RGJ. New horizons: Reablement - supporting older people towards independence. Age Ageing. 2016;45(5):574-578.  
  7. O’Connor CMC, Gresham M, Poulos RG, Clemson L, McGilton KS, Cameron ID, et al. Understanding in the Australian aged care sector of reablement interventions for people living with dementia: A qualitative content analysis. BMC Health Serv Res. 2020;20(1):140.
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