There’s a common misconception that as we age, making a move into aged care can accelerate mental and physical decline. But what if this needn’t be the case? Reablement is not a new term, but it has been showing exciting benefits for ageing Australians in recent years. 

Let’s take a look at exactly what reablement means, its benefits for seniors and their families, and the key steps involved for effective reablement strategies in aged care

What is reablement in aged care?

Reablement is a concept that challenges the belief that physical and mental declines are irreversible or unavoidable as we age. In fact, certain reablement exercises and activities can help older people to maintain – and in some cases actively regain – their coordination, strength, cognition, balance and social skills. 

Our brains’ neuroplasticity helps us to form habits and behaviours throughout our lives. Reablement aims to build new neural pathways, allowing a person to pick up new abilities and to restore old ones. 

What does reablement look like?

Reablement is highly personalised to the individual. It may include simple and repetitive physical therapy techniques, or more complex activities such as cooking lessons. Other activities might be based around social and community interactions to maintain conversation skills and mental cognition. In short, reablement can really look like anything that helps to maintain independence and confidence. 

Who can reablement help?

Reablement is not only beneficial in aged care environments, but also for people living with a disability and those recovering from illness or injury. Reablement strategies can also prove particularly valuable for those living with dementia, as these strategies can help to minimise or restore lost function. Ultimately, anyone can benefit from the process of forming new neural pathways and learning new skills – and at any age!

Benefits of reablement

There can be so many benefits of effective reablement strategies in aged care. These reablement advantages can include but are not limited to: 

  • Greater independence
  • Better physical health, balance and strength
  • Improved mental health
  • A boost in social connection, and
  • Fewer accidents or injuries.

While it’s only natural that some things can become more challenging as time goes on, reablement provides a more positive approach to maintaining and even regaining abilities that may have previously been thought lost. It enables aged care residents to keep their highest possible level of independence and function, which can have a profound impact on mental wellbeing and happiness.

How do I know if I need reablement in an aged care home?

Reablement is all about supporting what you want to do. You might request some extra support if you can no longer do certain things you used to enjoy, or have lost some confidence in a certain area. These things might be physical, like balance or dancing, or cognitive, like short-term memory or socialising. Your care team can help you with tailored activities and strategies.

The Australian Government’s aged care website, My Aged Care, has more information on short-term restorative care which can support reablement both in residential care or at home.

Steps involved in reablement

So, what is the process of developing effective reablement strategies in aged care? This will typically include the following steps, all centred around each resident and their goals. 

Identifying the opportunity

First up is identifying what you want to achieve. Which capabilities might you have been missing, or want to regain? This could be a favourite pastime such as gardening, or something like being able to remember things better that happened earlier in the day. 

Setting goals

From here, your care team will discuss with you where you want to get to. Perhaps the goal is to grow some herbs from seed to full size, or to be able to memorise a list of objects and recall them the next day. Perhaps it’s a more general goal, such as feeling more stable as you walk or improving how you feel when you wake up each morning. This will be really unique to you and how you like to live your life.

Developing your care plan

Your care team can work with you to develop personalised activities and steps to support you in your reablement. This could include specific actions like daily exercises, as well as broader support like music or art therapies. A tailored care plan might also include the use of aged care support services, like working with a physiotherapist or other allied health professionals.


Implementation will depend entirely on your reablement goals and plan. To provide just a few examples: 

  • Cognitive rehabilitation could include reminiscence therapy to connect with objects or memories from a resident’s personal history; reality orientation such as discussing the date and weather; and group activities such as singing, puzzles, music and games. 
  • Physical rehabilitation might include aerobic exercise such as walking, strength and resistance training, plus balance and coordination exercises. Reablement does not always need to be in a structured form, but can also be incorporated incidentally in the enjoyable experiences of daily life. 


Don’t worry – evaluation doesn’t involve formal tests! But here’s where it can be helpful to look back at your progress, celebrate any achievements along the way and make more plans for the future. Reablement shouldn’t be about ticking off a strict checklist of abilities, but rather achieving personal goals and experiencing positive improvements along the way. Depending on your needs and goals, you might like to set a new objective at this point so you can regain or build further independence. What’s exciting about reablement is that it’s a dynamic, collaborative process.

Find an aged care home that supports reablement

If you love the idea of reablement and enjoying your independence as fully as possible and for as long as possible, you might like to ask providers about their approach to reablement.

At Aurrum we’ve been incorporating reablement strategies into our care model for excellence for some years. To visit or enquire about any of our aged care homes in Victoria or NSW, you can simply contact our friendly team today.