Australian project leans on Montessori model in elderly care rethink

Category: Education/Family


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. dementia / dɪˈmɛn ʃə / (n.) – a general term used to describe a group of progressive brain disorders that affect memory, thinking, behavior, and the ability to perform daily activities

    My grandma suffers from dementia. She experiences memory loss and barely recognizes us.

  2. all-encompassing / ˈɔl ɛnˈkʌm pə sɪŋ / (adj.) – including or covering everything or everyone

    The company’s all-encompassing training program ensures that employees develop a wide range of skills and knowledge.

  3. pretend / prɪˈtɛnd / (adj.) – not real

    The kids enjoyed a pretend camping adventure in the living room.

  4. as opposed to / æz əˈpoʊzd tu / (idiom) – used to introduce the difference between two things, ideas, etc.

    The class prefers doing group activities as opposed to individual assignments.

  5. demonize / ˈdi məˌnaɪz / (v.) – to describe something in a way that it would seem like dangerous, threatening, or evil

    During campaigns, some politicians demonize their competitors to make them look bad.


Read the text below.

The benefits of the Montessori education model have long been discussed in relation to children.

Now a project in Australia is looking at the natural interests and activities of the older generation as part of an elderly care rethink. Researchers say it’s helping older people to stay active and enjoy the things they love.

A program called Living Well Together developed by Monash University is helping people who have dementia to live better lives by being more active and carrying on enjoying the things they love.

The project is an all-encompassing care program and even includes a pretend café for residents to make themselves a cup of their favorite hot drink. “It has got better yeah, they give you more to do,” says resident Maureen Nicholls.

The CEO of Baptcare, a faith-based not-for-profit residential and community care provider operating across Australia’s southeast, says they wanted to create an environment where the focus was always centered on the person as opposed to the place and routines.

“We’re already seeing significant impact,” says Geraldine Lannon, Baptcare CEO.

The model is based on the Montessori school of thought which has been tried and tested for years on younger people. In an aged care setting, the idea is to focus on the personal interests, preferences, and independence of residents.

“It’s my idea. My thoughts, my feelings, like a cloud has been taken away,” says resident Joy McMillan.

“We’re very happy that we are making residents’ life meaningful here. They are not just sitting there, they’re doing a lot of activities,” says registered nurse Subi Gurung. And because the project has been such a success here, it’s now being put in place in 15 other aged care centers. “It’s really easy to demonize residential aged care and to kind of say it’s an awful place, but I think we as a society have the collective right to think what could it look like?” says Darshini Ayton, an associate professor at Monash University.

And for McMillan, it’s the simple things that bring her the most pleasure, like what’s on the day’s menu. When asked what she enjoys most, she says “dinner” with a smile. “I like chicken,” concludes McMillan.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • In your opinion, how important is it to help people with dementia live better lives? How do you think the Montessori approach can improve the well-being of people with dementia (ex. it can enhance emotional fulfillment, it can lead to a more positive outlook)? Discuss.
  • Which aspect of the program do you find the most appealing (ex. the pretend café, the emphasis on personal interests and preferences)? Why? What other activities do you think can be added to the program (ex. music therapy sessions, pet therapy sessions)? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Geraldine Lannon said that they wanted to create an environment where the focus was always centered on the person as opposed to the place and routines. What do you think are the disadvantages of focusing too much on the place and routines (ex. forgetting the emotional side of care, routines can be boring)? Discuss.
  • How are aged care centers generally viewed in your country (ex. it’s a sad place, it’s a good place)? Why? Would you ever consider going to an aged care center when you get old? Why or why not? Discuss.