Dr Jennifer Hewitt

University Centre for Rural Health, University of Sydney

Transforming Allied Health Services in Residential Aged Care

Friday 14 October 2022

11:00am – 11:30am

Speaker Bio

Dr Jennie Hewitt is a physiotherapist, educator, and researcher with a passion for delivering best practice and leading research that informs health care policy. Jennie was awarded the ACSA National Lifetime of Achievement Award in 2018, and a National Commendation for Better Practice, from the Aged Care Quality Agency, for her work on the Sunbeam Exercise Program for residents of aged care. She was invited to give evidence to the Royal Commission on best practice allied health in residential care, and her Sunbeam Program is currently being federally funded in 11 Primary Health Networks and 119 aged care facilities nationally. She is the Technical Advisor to the Chief Allied Health Officer for the evaluation of this program. Jennie runs a multi-disciplinary student program in residential aged care that provides older people in rural communities with access to best practice allied health programs while simultaneously providing students with clinical education opportunities.


At last, allied health professionals and aged care providers have an opportunity to transform the way they deliver services in residential aged care. The Aged Care Funding Instrument presented a barrier to evidence-based allied health interventions, with the scope of practice eligible for funding being limited to outdated, passive pain management techniques. The Department of Health now expects “residential aged care facilities and allied health professionals to provide treatments that directly benefit the resident consistent with their individual care plan (for example, treating pain through an exercise program)”1. This dramatic shift, with little guidance on service expectations, has caused some concern about how to best utilise allied health services sustainably in residential aged care facilities.
This presentation will showcase a collaborative innovation between Dr Jennie Hewitt, (aged care physiotherapist) and Whiddon to address this issue.

We will demonstrate the steps undertaken to:

1)    Design, pilot, implement and refine a new model of evidence- based pain management and restorative care for residents of Whiddon residential care homes
2)    Evaluate the pilot and generate recommendations for scaling the program across the organisation
3)    Develop an implementation plan
4)    Review and refine the program in a continuous improvement model

The session aims to share our experiences and knowledge, and identify real solutions for both residential care providers and allied health service providers to deliver best practice pain management and restorative care.  We will showcase this progressive model and present real- life stories that demonstrate how residents have improved their health and function, well beyond expectations. We will encourage discussion and explore ideas to assist others in the rapidly changing aged care environment.  Let’s embrace the new opportunity to deliver sustainable, best practice allied health, and create a new pathway that has the potential to change thousands of residents’ lives.