Unique study gives people with dementia their say

Dementia pic_FlindersWP
The INSPIRED study will ask those with dementia to share their experiences and opinions to inform future care. Photo: Shutterstock

A unique study which actively seeks to capture the opinions and choices of people with dementia is being conducted in SA by researchers from Flinders University and the Repatriation General Hospital in partnership with major aged care facilities across Australia, including Helping Hand in SA.

The Investigating Services Provided in the Residential care Environment for Dementia in Australia (INSPIRED) study will determine the cost of residential aged care for people with dementia.

It brings together researchers, consumers and aged care providers to provide evidence-based information for innovative new models of care and/or funding to be developed to emphasise consumer-directed care and more effective and efficient service provision.

Currently, there is very little accurate information about the cost of providing quality care for people with dementia or related cognitive decline.

With an ageing Australian population and increased pressures on aged care services, it is critical to get a better understanding of these costs in order to assist in future care planning efforts of service providers and government policy makers.

Through one-on-one interviews with consumers, the study is examining the variation in current aged care services, differences in resource use, quality of care, choice of care, and quality of life associated with different models of care.

“The study is a rare one in that it does not exclude people on the basis of being cognitively impaired; on the contrary, INSPIRED is designed to include these people,” said Professor Maria Crotty, Director of Rehabilitation at Repatriation General Hospital, and team leader of the INSPIRED Study.

“Participants in our INSPIRED study at Helping Hand had a wide range of cognitive abilities and even those with moderate cognitive decline were able to participate in the data collection for the study with the assistance of a family member or carer,” said Professor Crotty.

The INSPIRED study, funded through the NHMRC Cognitive Decline Partnership Centre (CDPC), has already been piloted in South Australia with CDPC industry partner, Helping Hand.

Residents of two of Helping Hand’s largest aged care facilities have been involved in interviews about their quality of life and quality of care, and the aspects of residential care they value most.

Information about the model of care provided in these facilities and the cost of providing this care has also been collected.

The researchers are now planning to undertake the same research with the remaining CDPC industry partners, HammondCare in NSW and The Brightwater Care Group in WA.

When this is complete, the INSPIRED team will conduct comparisons of these differing care models and costs, resulting in a robust economic evaluation of dementia care in residential aged care facilities.

This work will then inform future policy and program management decisions in relation to the models of care and funding provided by the Commonwealth to people with dementia and their families.

The CDPC is a $25 million partnership between the government, academics, industry partners and Alzheimer’s Australia.

The vision of the CDPC is to co-create and synthesise knowledge that changes policy, systems and practice, improving the lives of people living with dementia and cognitive decline.

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