Christmas and the importance of environment in aged care

By Jacquie Molloy, Snr Communications & Projects Lead

What do you think of when you consider the idea of ‘environment’? No doubt you think of your physical surroundings but what about your thoughts and beliefs? And your habits? And the people you spend time with (at work and at home)?

Because it all counts as your environment.

That’s the first thing to consider.

Now think about how you curate and protect your environment.

What do you allow into your space? (physical, social, mental, emotional) How do you care for your environment so that it remains healthy and supportive for you?

You will be influenced by your environment and it will either support your self care or not: it either pulls you under or raises you up.

There are two reasons for our interest in environment right now, especially as it pertains to residential aged care, but also community care.

The first is that we are entering a period of what can easily become enforced joy, decking the halls so to speak for weeks on end.

Some things to consider:

  • Are you catering for those who find it difficult to meet expectations of a cheery environment and might absent themselves from community because it requires too much effort to join in?
  • Is there a rhythm to the joy so that it does not get turned on at a particular date and then turned off at another — but rather has peaks and valleys throughout the period?
  • What is the purpose of the joyful and cheery events? Because knowing this will help to uncover if all needs are being met and there is representation for all.

The second reason to talk about environment is also topical. The news. The current state of the world with two major wars being reported on and shown on the news daily.

This generation in particular makes a point of watching the news every day without perhaps a full understanding of the harm that can be caused by this sanctioned and accepted activity. (Because who could fault someone for wanting to stay informed?)

However we are becoming more and more aware of the moral injury of unchecked passive absorption of trauma and how it influences the way we see and acknowledge the world around us and the way that it exacerbates a default pessimistic view on everything regardless simply because of the level of trauma and hurt that has been ‘consumed’.

Some things to be aware of:

  • How skilled are your staff at being able to recognise when someone is at risk of being traumatised by the news?
  • Are you aware of the effect that the current war-related news in particular can have on those who have lived experience in a trauma situation such as refugees, veterans, etc?
  • What is the effect on the whole group of even some watching the news or the news being on in common spaces?

Environment plays such an important role in our overall emotional wellbeing. If we agree that spiritual care is a vital component of holistic care in aged care then we must also recognise that curating the environment to support every individual is part of that care.

Want to know more?

Talk to the Meaningful Ageing Australia team about how we can support you to identify, assess and support older people on 1800 618 107 or email