Re-thinking reablement strategies for older adults in residential aged care: a scoping review

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Downloads (Pure)


Background: The number of older adults in residential aged care is increasing. Aged care residents have been shown to spend most of the day sedentary and have many co-morbidities. This review aimed to systematically explore the effectiveness of reablement strategies in residential aged care for older adults’ physical function, quality of life and mental health, the features of effective interventions and feasibility (compliance, acceptability, adverse events and cost effectiveness). Method: This scoping review was undertaken according to PRISMA guidelines (extension for scoping reviews). Five e-databases (Medline, Embase, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews and CINAHL) were searched from 2010 onwards. Randomised controlled trials investigating reablement strategies addressing physical deconditioning for older adults (mean age ≥ 65 yrs) in residential aged care on physical function, quality of life or mental health were included. Feasibility of the interventions (compliance, acceptability, satisfaction, adverse events and cost effectiveness) was explored. Results: Five thousand six hundred thirty-one citations were retrieved, and 63 studies included. Sample sizes ranged from 15 to 322 and intervention duration from one to 12 months. Exercise sessions were most often conducted two to three times per week (44 studies) and physiotherapist-led (27 studies). Interventions were predominately multi-component (28 studies, combinations of strength, balance, aerobic, functional exercises). Five interventions used technology. 60% of studies measuring physical function reported significant improvement in the intervention versus control, 40% of studies measuring quality of life reported significant improvements in favour of the intervention, and 26% of studies measuring mental health reported significant intervention benefits. Over half of the studies measured compliance and adverse events, four measured acceptability and none reported cost effectiveness. Conclusions: There has been a research surge investigating reablement strategies in residential aged care with wide variability in the types and features of strategies and outcome measures. Few studies have measured acceptability, or cost effectiveness. Exploration of core outcomes, mapping stakeholders and co-designing a scalable intervention is warranted. Trial registration: Prospectively registered review protocol (Open Science Framework: DOI

Original languageEnglish
Article number667
Number of pages12
JournalBMC Geriatrics
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2021


  • Acceptability
  • Aged care
  • Cost effectiveness
  • Feasibility
  • Older adults
  • Physical deconditioning
  • Reablement strategies


Dive into the research topics of 'Re-thinking reablement strategies for older adults in residential aged care: a scoping review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this