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Sharon Hetherington

Day Presenting:  Tuesday 30 October
Time: 11:30am-12:00pm
Session Concurrent A1 – Innovation
Presentation Title Active@Home – Evidence Based Reablement for Community – Dwelling Customers
Position Title Research Manager
Company Active@Home


Exercise has proven health benefits for older adults, independent of their age, level of disability or the presence of disease. However, for older adults experiencing increasing disability, it is the combination of resistance and balance exercise that has proven most effective in the reablement of functional health. While in-clinic, resistance-based, group training is gaining increased attention as a reablement model-of-care, many older adults experience barriers to participation including difficulty travelling to and from facilities, economic restriction, and low confidence in unfamiliar environments. As an alternative, in-home exercise delivered by allied health professionals can improve functional health. However, these programs are expensive to deliver, short-term in nature and lack continuity in staff delivery. Eager to find a cost-effective alternative, we piloted the active@home program to allow the customer to exercise in the familiar surroundings of their own home with consistent and ongoing support. Delivered by home-care and personal-care workers, as both exercise coaches and as supporter and motivator, the program proved significantly beneficial for older adults receiving aged care support. The program is comprised of five strength and three balance exercises, and is designed for people to start at an achievable level and progress as exercise tolerance increases. After 18 weeks, participants (N=37) recorded a significant (+19%) increase in their functional capacity and a 47% reduction in healthcare service access. There was also a 19% reduction in frailty diagnosis among the cohort, with no adverse events reported. Based on these positive outcomes and recognising the growing need for such programs, active@home is currently in second stage roll out to a larger, more diverse population though a membership model employing both physical resources (program booklet and posters) and information technology. Specifically, program membership will give providers access to a smart device app and online training for coaches, support for client exercise participation through the app, centralised support for participating organisations and regular reports detailing customer interactions and benefits. Due to be launched nationally in November 2018, the defining difference from the plethora of academically driven in-home programs is that active@home is delivered from within the aged care sector by a proactive aged care consortium. It is strongly customer-focused and it has produced proven outcomes. Moreover, the active@home program aligns directly with the NOUS recommendation for community reablement and will support providers to produce evidence-based reablement reports as required by the new reporting scheme for the Commonwealth Home Support Programme.


Dr Sharon Hetherington is an exercise physiologist and researcher whose specialist study area is the impact of a physically active life on healthy ageing. Sharon has experience in research design, computer-aided data collection and statistical analysis.