Gwenda Darling
Consumer Representative, OPAN/Council of Elders


Gwenda received a dementia diagnosis in March 2013. The diagnosing geriatrician gave her 5 years with medication 3 without. Gwenda continues to live a full life with her dementia, advocating for community members to age well in their own homes. Gwenda is a member of the National Older Persons Reference Group, Council of Elders member, Dementia Australia Advisory Committee, AdNET registry steering committee member, investigator with University of Western Australia, Deakin University and QUT research grants. Gwenda is also involved in research with Griffith university Malnutrition in dementia and QUT aphasia research. A proud Palawa Aboriginal woman, mother, grandmother and great grandmother who lives in rural NSW on the Victorian border. Gwenda advocates, as a volunteer, and provides advice and assists others in rural communities in navigating aged care services.

Building Trust – The Consumer Perspective

Aged care is moving towards a new rights-based Aged Care Act, with the underlying foundations of rights, principles and supported decision making. In this new model of aged care how do we build trust between older people, as active participants in the aged care system, and aged care providers?

Gwenda has been strong advocates for older people and aged care providers working together and have discussed this issue at numerous forums. She doesn’t believe the old paradigm of conflict between older people and providers is useful and instead want to see a system where genuine partnership happens and where older people and providers work together in achieving positive outcomes for older people. By doing this providers will also benefit from having engaged participants who can walk alongside providers to help them achieve their goals as well.

Craig Gear will facilitate a discussion between Gwenda and a provider (apologies still waiting on confirmation for who this will be) on how they believe trust can be built between older people and providers. They will provide some practical tips and ideas that providers can take back to their services to help build trusting relationships with participants. This will enable improved person-centred care and help acheive better outcomes for providers and participants.

This will be an informative session considering where the sector has come from and is traveling to and why it is essential for older people and providers to work together.