Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Teaching organisation

The learning and teaching strategy adopted in this online unit approaches learning and teaching as sequenced in exploration of context, experience, reflection, action, and evaluation. This process enables participants to engage in learning that is transformative of the whole person, mind and heart. 

Unit rationale, description and aim

Those involved in the management of Aged Care services need to understand the social, emotional, institutional and spiritual needs of older people. As they design and deliver therapeutic supports and care offerings to individuals at varying levels of cognitive and physical health and ability, managers of Aged Care services must be capable of critically analyzing the forces of “ageism” in institutions and of applying the ethical and theological perspectives necessary for the holistic care of persons.

This unit will focus on humanistic considerations associated with the dynamics of ageing. Students will be introduced to a range of understandings of the older person, of their social and physical environment, and of theories concerning the holistic health of elders. The Australian political economy, contemporary social issues and trends that impact on service delivery arrangements for healthy, as well as older people with disabilities, will be explored. Processes that may be used to assist the older individual to reach a sense of personal integration will be examined and critiqued.

The unit aims to assist students to understand the multidimensional needs of ageing people and to develop effective strategies for providing supportive structures in both social and professional contexts.  

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Explain “ageism” as a social problem and how it can impact upon the management of therapeutic care for elders (GA4, GA3);

LO2 - Analyse the philosophical and theological problems of suffering, joy and meaning as integral to theorising ageing (GA1, GA2, GA4, GA7);

LO3 - Utilise theories of ageing to the develop a model for the provision of therapeutic, holistic care of older people and their carers (GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA7). 

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 


Topics will include:

  • Cultural (and trans-cultural) perspectives and contextual aspects in aging and life transitions;
  • Theories and approaches for emotional and spiritual support (e.g. counselling, music, art, poetry, life review, reminiscence, storytelling, rituals);
  • Strategies for formal and informal carers in providing therapeutic support and care to older individuals (healthy, with disabilities, chronically-ill, acutely ill, rehabilitative) in different settings (home, community, acute care, retirement villages, nursing homes);
  • Suffering, joy, meaning and spirituality in the life of an older person;
  • Social issues and trends in aged care e.g., de-institutionalisation, multiculturalism, housing, welfare, work, retirement, stereotypes, ageism, and elder abuse.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

The learning and teaching strategy adopted in this online unit approaches learning and teaching as sequenced in exploration of context, experience, reflection, action, and evaluation. This process enables participants to engage in learning that is transformative of the whole person, mind and heart. The learning process that it facilitates draws on the Christian view of the human person in its structure and content, for example, by emphasising the participants’ dignity and creative contribution to the experience of learning. This strategy presupposes that learner and teacher enter into a mutual and reciprocal relationship whereby each searches for the insight of the other and in the service of shared learning.

The unit utilises this strategy because it specifically offers a model of adult-learning that recognises, supports, respects and develops the wealth of experience and knowledge that participants bring to this unit. This strategy aims at facilitating participants’ appropriation of unit content in relation to their own learning needs and personal growth. As a result, this strategy generates readiness for personal transformation and meaningful professional impact.

In order to achieve this outcome, this unit uses an active learning approach to support students. Learning materials offer students choice and variety in how they learn. Online discussion boards will enable students to engage, interact and collaborate with their facilitator and peers, contributing to ACU’s online learning community. Synchronous sessions will address any gaps and to enhance or enrich a student’s understanding of core concepts. Active learning opportunities will enable students to practice and apply their learnings to real world situations. Students will receive regular and timely feedback on their learning. This approach allows flexibility for students and facilitates learning and participation for students with a preference for online learning.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment strategy of this unit aims to facilitate participants’ incremental and scaffolded appropriation of unit content in relation to their personal and professional experience and learning needs. The assessment tasks enable participants to synthesize and deepen their learning in the unit in view of the unit’s transformative educational philosophy. The unit utilises three assessments, each of which scaffolds unit content with respect to participants’ professional contexts and learning needs.

The first assessment task asks participants to revisit a broad range of unit content (e.g., module content, readings and forum discussions) culminating in a presentation concerning how key areas of learning impact practical situations. The second assessment task both builds on participants’ learning in the first and facilitates the participants’ focused appropriation of theory. The third assessment asks students to apply their learning to their professional context (e.g., in a case study). All three assessments provide a strong, practical connection between unit learning outcomes and participants’ professional roles.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment 1: E-poster describing “ageism” as a social problem and how it impacts on Aged Care services. Requires students to demonstrate understanding and integration of unit content.



GA1, GA3, GA4

Assessment 2: Project involving verbal and written elements, requiring students to clearly describe and analyse contemporary theories concerning ageing. Require students to demonstrate understanding and integration of unit content.


LO1, LO2

GA1, GA2, GA4, GA7

Assessment 3: Integrative essay critically analysing a contemporary issue concerning ageing and the support of ageing people, applying this thinking to a practical context. Requires students to demonstrate ability to analyse professional context and apply unit content  to specific, organisational problems.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA1; GA2; GA3, GA4, GA7

Representative texts and references

Klein, D. Travels with Epicurus: A Journey to a Greek Island in Search of a Fulfilled Life. Melbourne:

Text Publishing, 2012. 

Gawande, A. Being Mortal: Aging, Illness, Medicine and What Matters in the End. London: Profile

Books, 2014.

Lustbader, W. Life Gets Better: The Unexpected Pleasures of Growing Older. New York:

TarcherPerigee, 2011.

Thomas, B. Second Wind: Navigating the Passage to a Slower, Deeper, and More Connected Life.

New York: Simon and Schuster, 2015.

McNamara, L. “Theological Perspectives on Ageing and Mental Health.” Journal of Religious

Gerontology, 13:3-4 (2003): 1-16.

MacKinlay, E. and R. Burns. (2017) “Spirituality Promotes Better Health Outcomes and Lowers

Anxiety about Aging: The Importance of Spiritual Dimensions for Baby Boomers as They Enter Older Adulthood.” Journal of Religion, Spirituality & Aging, 29:4 (2017): 248-265.

MacKinlay, E. Ageing, Disability, and Spirituality: Addressing the Challenge of Disability in Later Life.

London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2008.

Hopwood R.A. “Religion, Spirituality, and Health Behaviors: Intersections with Gender Diversity and

Aging.” In Hardacker C., Ducheny K., Houlberg M., eds. Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Health and Aging. Cham: Springer, 2019.  

McGlynn, C., O'Neill, M., and Schrage-Früh, M, eds. Ageing Women in Literature and Visual Culture

Reflections, Refractions, Reimaginings. Cham: Springer, 2019.

National Ageing Research Institute (NARI). “Inside the System: Aged Care Residents’ Perspectives.”

Research Paper 13, Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. 2020.

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