Montessori in Aged Care at Castlemaine Health


The Montessori approach has been introduced across the shire by Mount Alexander Aged Care Collaborative in both community and residential aged care settings. It is now an active program in Castlemaine Health, Maldon Hospital and the Mount Alexander Shire Home Support Program.

It is a model of care that focuses on the person and their environment. It has been adapted to help older people with memory loss retain their independence.

Relate, Motivate, Appreciate

More commonly known as an educational approach for schools and early childhood centres, Montessori in aged care is about:

  • finding activities that that older adults living with cognitive and/or physical impairments have loved and still enjoy
  • engaging them in those activities so that they have greater control and connection to those around them
  • appreciating individuality and helping people maintain their sense of self in often challenging circumstances.

It’s interaction that relies less on language and more on sharing.

For families, it can be hard to maintain long-standing connections when loved-ones struggle to communicate and remember as they once did. While language skills may diminish, peoples’ desire to communicate does not. Montessori offers a range of sensory-based suggestions for new activities to help maintain vital personal connections.

Montessori in residential aged care

In Castlemaine Health’s aged care residences, small changes are making a big difference. Staff recently worked with residents and their families to create a garden and outdoor area, and those in low-care areas will soon welcome regular visits from local kindergartens.

Residents are also enjoying:

  • choosing menus, preparing dining rooms for meals
  • gardening and creating foliage arrangements
  • listening to much-loved music
  • seeing small children play in the new children’s play corner
  • visiting the in-house hairdressing salon
  • enjoying time with pets through visits by pet volunteers and petting zoos

Donna Brook, Operations Manager in Residential Aged Care, said: “These changes are about finding roles that support older peoples’ dignity and allow them to be as independent as possible. The Montessori principles help staff, residents and families to create meaningful experiences, which are so important for us all.”


Montessori in the community

The Adult Day Service is Castlemaine Health’s group social support for older people, those with significant disability and carers. They have applied the Montessori principles of ‘Motivate, Relate, Appreciate’ in a community setting by creating sensory projects that are fun and respectful, and create a valued role for those involved. Participants’ own experiences are used to help shape the projects, such as a group Monopoly game with a participant who’d had a long, respected career as a banker.


Alecia McShanag, Manager of the Adult Day Service and Volunteer Program, said: “Montessori allows the person to tell their own story. It’s about being someone who is valued and important, and being someone who has a story to tell.”

Find out more

To find out more about Montessori in aged care, visit

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