This study describes and evaluates an innovative program designed to reduce functional decline among seniors, using a participatory care approach and integrated health teams. The evaluation provides older people and community support workers (CSWs) with the opportunity to share their experiences of being involved with an innovative program to reduce functional decline (mobility, skin integrity, nutrition, mental health, continence) of older, community dwelling adults implemented by a Nursing Service in a major capital city in Australia. As part of the program, CSWs were trained to provide care that aimed to reduce functional decline, and improve the quality of life for the care recipients. Data were collected through in-depth interviews with older people receiving care and a focus group (FG) was conducted with CSWs. Seven themes emerged during data analysis: 1) functionality/independence; 2) prevention; 3) confidence; 4) connection; 5) the approach; 6) care plans; and 7) the role of the CSWs. The relationship built between care giver and receiver and the mutual respect facilitated through adopting a participatory care approach was crucial. This relationship-focused care contributed to improved functionality and consequently quality of life for the older person, and for the CSW professional it contributed to their development, improved satisfaction with their role, and increased pride in the difference they make in the lives of their clients. Opportunities for improvement of the program included ensuring that participants understood the rationale for all aspects of the program, including regular reminders, as well as the use of regular reviews of individual outcomes. 
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-435
Number of pages7
JournalIssues in Mental Health Nursing
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016


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