Funding needed to test tailored aged care services

AGED CARE: Changing facilities direction to person-centred services requires an investment in change research.
AGED CARE: Changing facilities direction to person-centred services requires an investment in change research.

MOVING away from the institutionalised and regimented approach to aged care facility services is being forced upon the industry by Consumer Directed Care.

The challenge now is how well the industry can adapt to the resident-driven choice of services and where the funding will come from to enable this service approach change. 

"Australia needs a residential aged care sector that can better tailor services to meet the individual needs of older people," Australian Catholic University's Institute for Health and Ageing director, Professor Marita McCabe said.

"With an estimated 76,000 new residential aged care facilities required by 2023-24, it's important change happens now to ensure the aged care sector is prepared for the 'silver tsunami'".

Researchers from the institute have found through its Older and Wiser: Putting the Consumer's Voice at the Centre of Residential Aged Care study, that a change to tailoring services and care is achievable.

The study explored the impact of CDC on six aged care facilities in Melbourne. The lessons from that study were -

  • Staff and residents need to talk about what each resident actually wants, and they then need to build an ongoing relationship.  
  • On-the-floor staff and senior staff need to modify their roles so that the floor staff have the authority to discuss with residents what their care needs are and then give that recognised feedback to the organisation. Approaching care services this way means all staff can have input to what happens with the resident.  
  • Greater communication is needed between staff as to how to deliver services and care that are wrapped around the resident rather the resident having to fit in with the organisation.

"We found residents quality of life and their satisfaction with the care they received improved significantly as a result of the program," Prof McCabe said.  

"Senior staff also showed improvement. The on-the-floor staff were still having to wrap their head around it and try to accommodate it.

"It's a massive change."

Prof McCabe said the next stage of the first-time study requires broader roll-out and longer follow-up time, before the new care approach can be introduced within the aged care facility industry.

Earlier today the project report was launched in Canberra with bipartisan support received from both Commonwealth health minister Ken Wyatt and shadow health minister Julie Collins.

Prof McCabe hopes the health department will be prepared to fund the necessary further research. 

Topics:  aged care australian catholic university general-seniors-news wellbeing

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