Environments to support reablement

For reablement to be successful, an older person’s surroundings are important to support cognitive and functional capabilities. Ensuring the environment is safe, accessible, and facilitates function is vital to independence and reablement. The layout and design of residential aged care facilities and individuals’ homes may require modifications to promote safe and positive experiences of reablement. [1] The surrounding environment should also support social interaction and meaningful connections. When incorporating a reablement approach into aged care, you may want to consider the following:

  • Preventing dependency - The environment in which a person lives should prevent dependency on others for daily activities and provide the opportunity to practice and regain their skills. This can lead to greater autonomy and improved self-esteem for older people. During the design process, there should be a clear process to ensure that older people can move and access their surrounding environments independently. [2] 
  • Supporting social interaction- Environments that support reablement should promote opportunities for social engagement and a feeling of community. In residential aged care facilities this may take the form of open plan areas with comfortable seating, communal gardens and spaces that support group activities. Older people living at home may need supported to attend planned community activities, or be assisted to use technology to maintain their social connections. [3] 

The following resources may be useful if you are considering how the environment can support reablement.

Want to know more?

If you require more information on the reablement approach and how to implement it in aged care: 

  1. Visit our evidence themes on Rehabilitation, reablement, and restorative care 
  2. Browse our full set of resources on the topic
  3. Look for research evidence within the PubMed database by using one of the PubMed searches provided here. PubMed contains brief information (‘citations’) on millions of research studies. It can therefore be challenging to search. Our librarian has made finding highly relevant information on this topic as simple as a click of a button. Click on All to see everything in the database on the topic or choose Full text to view only articles immediately available to you free of charge in full text. 

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. 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.  
  2. Nordin S, McKee K, Wallinder M, von Koch L, Wijk H, Elf M. The physical environment, activity and interaction in residential care facilities for older people: A comparative case study. Scand J Caring Sci. 2017;31(4):727-738.   
  3. Siette J, Dodds L, Surian D, Prgomet M, Dunn A, Westbrook J. Social interactions and quality of life of residents in aged care facilities: A multi-methods study. PLoS One. 2022;17(8):e0273412. 
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