Karn Nelson


Transforming Allied Health Services in Residential Aged Care

Friday 14 October 2022

11:00am – 11:30am

Speaker Bio

Karn joined Whiddon after working for more than 20 years as a consultant in strategic marketing and innovation. She has worked internationally and in Australia across many sectors including health and wellness, retail, professional services and government.

Karn is responsible for Whiddon’s research and innovation programs. In particular innovating in the wellbeing space and improving quality of life for older people. Karn is responsible for the development of Whiddon’s MyLife relationship based care model, which was one of the 3 inaugural winners of the Aged Care Quality Agency’s National Excellence awards as well as several other award winning and evidence-based wellbeing programs. She prepared the submission to the Royal Commission when Whiddon was invited to give evidence as an exemplary organisation for its holistic and relationship based care approach.

Karn is Deputy Chair of Holdsworth community services, and represents Whiddon as a founding Board member of Ending Loneliness Together (ELT).


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barrier to evidence-based allied health interventions, with the scope of practice eligible for funding being limited to outdated, passive pain management techniques.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.