OPTEACH – including older people in education
At the heart of OPTEACH is a desire to value older people – their wisdom, experiences and priorities. We believe that any education about the ageing process can be enhanced by including these 'experts in ageing' – older people!
This website has been designed as a toolkit to assist organisations to partner with older people (including residents of aged care facilities) to help educate younger generations, caregivers, and health professionals about the joys and challenges of getting older.
All OPTEACH resources have been developed by an experienced multidisciplinary team, based on interviews with the management and staff of residential aged care facilities (RACFs), educators in various settings, as well as older people in care and in the community. Watch this short video to find out more about the 'spirit' of OPTEACH.
Benefits of OPTEACH for aged care
In some residential aged care facilities there is a perception that training is 'too expensive' and therefore gets 'put on the back-burner'. However, these places are full of people who have expert knowledge of ageing and the multiple physical, emotional, social, spiritual, sexual, cultural and financial challenges and opportunities that ageing encompasses. So it makes sense to incorporate their experiences and ideas into learning!
The OPTEACH approach encourages aged care managers to recognise their residents/clients as rich 'learning resources' who can actively contribute to learning and staff development in their organisations. By giving older people the opportunity to be involved in OPTEACH education sessions (either onsite or offsite), you can
- Get to know your residents/clients as unique individuals.
- Address specific issues being encountered by the staff in your organisation.
- Contribute to intergenerational understanding and compassion.
- Assist your staff to develop greater skill in communicating with your residents/clients, and older people more generally.
- Comply with accreditation requirements and help your organisation fulfil its mission and strategic priorities.
Using the OPTEACH approach with your staff and residents
This website provides both educators/organisers and older people with ideas and resources for running or being involved in OPTEACH education sessions, while respecting rights and ensuring good outcomes for both the organisation and the people involved. There are also checklists and forms that can be tailored to fit the organisation and the learning situation. As an aged care manager, you could use OPTEACH resources to:
- help protect the privacy and safety of any residents involved in OPTEACH education sessions.
- guide the development of relevant policies to support OPTEACH education sessions being run in your facility or those involving your residents as guest speakers.
- ensure compliance with policies and regulations.
- capture the older person's responses to the education sessions and enhance their feeling of belonging.
Help build a community of skilled OPTEACHers
Over time, we hope that OPTEACH will make a positive contribution to education about ageing across Australia, help break down ageist stereotypes, and give many older people a renewed sense of purpose.
As a manager, we hope you find this website a useful resource as you support and develop your staff and protect your residents' rights. If your facility or residents are involved in an OPTEACH session, please let us know!