Holistic Approaches to Aged Care – Mind, Body & Spirit

International Year of Indigenous Languages
January 29, 2019
Royal Commission Forum – PICAC WA – March 27th 2019
March 5, 2019
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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Aged Care may have specific design and locations of facilities differing from others. But what if some of these elements could be used in a cross-cultural sharing? As we know Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are a group of people that are so diverse within themselves. If there are no specific cultural laws or limitations restricting this cross-cultural sharing, then it may be useful to share elements within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community as well as the wider community.

Although Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are all very diverse they share one common outlook, having a holistic approach to all aspects of living, meaning without one the rest of the system cannot thrive. Aged Care Centres can use this holistic approach in the sense of making sure all aspects of the centre work with one another. Some aspects of a holistic system include connecting with the body, mind, family and kinship, culture, spirit, country and community. This strategy will differ depending on the centre’s locations and clients.


Aged Care focus areas that could be approached are Body, Mind and Spirit which is equivalent to most Western health focus areas of psychological, mental and social well-being. Body, Mind and Spirit are the focus areas which we will focus on from an Aboriginal and Holistic perspective and show how and why it can be implemented into all Aged Care facilities across Australia.
Native gardens are specific flora that hold significance to the Traditional Custodians of the land. The garden emulates an aesthetic, brings nutritional value, healing, aroma and stories. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders always used any flora, fauna or object with a multipurpose attitude. Each Native Garden will range with various flora depending on the land which the Aged Care Centre is situated. This will always encourage the clients to be more active outside and will establish and create new connection to the flora to all clients. Native Fauna can be portrayed through sculptures adding another element of connection to the environment. Native Gardens are an aspect that focus on improving one’s body or physical health.

Community and family are a major aspect of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. Ways this can be achieved is through having large communal spaces. This allows extra space for visiting family members. This will make the Aged Care Centre have more of a community “feel” and encourage family members and friends to regularly visit making the clients feel more connected. This communal approach will in turn increase the client’s social well-being and enable a more cohesive and respect due to education through social engaging and personal life stories. The implantation of regular yarning circles could further one’s social well-being and decrease chances of discrimination within the centre.

A culturally safe space is a term used referring to one’s cultural views being respected and acknowledged. The cultural safe spaces do not need to be designed to one specific culture but be a collective of all. The adoption of having cultural safe places within an aged care facility will improves one’s mental health. The use of the room can extend from birthdays to mourning of a loved one or family visit. These spaces should accommodate the largest families as in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture family visits often include large groups. By having a large space, it will encourage regular visits of family and friends thus keeping the client mentally healthy and to have and keep a strong spiritual connection to their family.
With the adoption of a holistic approach Aged Care facilities can improve Body, Mind and Spirits benefits whilst enjoying a cross-cultural learning experience.