Function-focused reablement

The functional ability of an older person depends on their ability to interact with the environment around them and often depends on their physical and cognitive capabilities. [1, 2] Function-focused reablement supports older people to develop or relearn the skills required to function independently and enhance their quality of life. [3] When integrating function-focused reablement into aged care services you may want to consider the following:  

  • Home modifications – regardless of where an older person lives, whether their own home or a residential aged care facility, modifications may be required to support them to carry out functional tasks independently. This may require referral to services that can provide significant renovations or be as simple as moving a rug so that it is not a tripping hazard.  
  • Education – For some older adults who have become deconditioned, they may not see the benefits of being functionally independent, especially if they experience pain or difficulty when moving around. Educating older people and their families to the importance of carrying out functional tasks such as washing the dishes may be a useful approach to support older people.  
  • Support problem solving – Some tasks may become too difficult and risky for people in their advancing years such as hanging out the washing on the line. Working to develop strategies to either assist with or support these tasks is important for functional reablement and delivery of safe care.  
  • Adaptive equipment or technologies – With the continued development of technology, older adults may benefit from the use of equipment to support their functional independence. This may be in the form of Telehealth to receive physiotherapy or a bed stick to help them get in and out of bed. Considering whether an older person could benefit from supportive equipment may assist functional reablement. 

To support you deliver function-focused reablement into your aged care service, the following resources might be useful:

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

This PubMed topic search is limited to home care and residential aged care settings. You can choose to view all citations or citations to articles available free of charge.

  1. 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.  
  2. World Health Organization. World report on ageing and health [Internet]. Geneva: WHO; 2015 [cited 2023 Jul 28]. Available from: 
  3. 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. 
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