Melbourne Ageing Research Collaboration (MARC)

Melbourne Ageing Research Collaboration


The Melbourne Ageing Research Collaboration (MARC) is a unique collaboration of health, research, aged care and advocacy organisations working together to improve the lives of older people.

Our vision is that older people received the best possible care and support through services, programs and policies which support health and optimal quality of life.

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The MARC "Making Healthy Normal" Forum was held on the 27 April 2017 with Jo Boylan, Operations Director at Southern Cross Care. Jo has significant aged care and management credentials from a 25-year career within the aged care industry, spanning companies such as ACH Group and Lutheran Homes. She has also had close involvement with a range of policy issues affecting the aged care sector as an advisor to government departments and as a member of the aged care sector reference groups and programs.

As well as holding a Masters in Nursing, in which her principal area of study was Transforming Leadership in Aged Care, Jo Boylan is in the process of completing her PhD in Nursing in which she has been studying the integration of healthy ageing into aged care services.

The “Making Healthy Normal” forum brought together allied health professionals, aged care workers, researchers, and even architects specialising in residential care design to hear Jo speak about the importance of healthy being the ‘norm’ in residential aged care, and how care and health services often focus on ill-being rather than well-being. Jo advocated for the importance of promoting the shift from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset in organisations to enable change in practice.

Jo spoke about her work in Southern Cross Care’s residential aged care facilities, where she has worked closely with care workers, nurses, and management staff to embed a change in attitude and culture. Jo discussed how empowering all people to improve their health-related physical, mental, social well-being, and a focus on developing intrinsic capabilities should be a standard part of care provision. This involves ensuring that employees are provided with education and training and that consumers have access to health literacy, recovery pathways, and meaningful goal-setting.

Photo of Making Healthy Normal Forum

 An example of how Jo has implemented this change in approach within Southern Cross     Care was by opening 5 Health and Wellness Centres in residential care facilities across       South Australia, where residents have access to physical activities with support from         health professionals. This change resulted in 63% of residents feeling more energetic and   fitter, 82% of residents feeling stronger, and 93% of residents believing that their quality   of life has improved.

 Positive feedback from a forum attendee indicated that they gained a number of key   messages from Jo’s presentation, stating:

“For me, a key element of the making healthy normal program is that it taps into the   innate urge of all people (regardless of age or circumstance) to learn, to be engaged, to be creative and to be able to exercise independence in thought and action.”

The take-home messages from Jo’s presentation were that taking positive action towards making healthy normal will:

  • prevent or delay avoidable decline, regardless of age or illness
  • give access to interventions that promote health and wellbeing, with every interaction
  • identify frailty early and reverse it through a dedicated recovery plan
  • support people to ‘walk until they die’
  • enable people to ‘do the things they love most’

For more information on Jo Boylan's presentation please view the Making Healthy Normal slides:

Making Healthy Normal

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