New way to measure quality of aged care

The Caring Futures Institute at Flinders University is leading research into developing a new quality of life measure that aged care providers can use for quality assessments with their clients.

Researchers from the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, partnering with several aged care organisations, are working with older people receiving aged care services to find out what is important for them to have a good quality of life.

The quality of life measure will also quantify older people’s preferences which can then be used in the economic evaluation of aged care services.

The research project, ‘A Good Life: Developing a New Quality of Life Instrument with Older People For Economic Evaluation in Aged Care’ is a three-year project based at Flinders University’s newly launched Caring Futures Institute, Australia’s first fully dedicated research centre for the study of self-care and caring solutions.

The Australian Research Council Linkage Program includes interviews with older Australians living in residential care and aims to target older people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, spending on aged care programs and services is expected to rise to $80 billion by 2054-2055. Economic evaluation helps decision-makers fund services and supports that maximise quality of life for older people.

“One in four older people accessing aged care services are from CALD backgrounds and we want the final quality of life measure to be meaningful, suitable and acceptable to all older Australians” says Project Manager Dr Claire Hutchinson.

The gathered interviews will help develop a descriptive model of what good quality of life means to aged care consumers.

From this a preference-based quality of life measure will be developed, producing a scoring algorithm for use in quality assessment and economic evaluation of aged care services.

“The ageing of Australia’s population represents a significant challenge for aged care,” says Professor Julie Ratcliffe.

“New methods, techniques and evaluative frameworks are needed to overcome resource constraints while maximising the quality of life and wellbeing of older Australians.”

Our new quality of life instrument will be the first of its kind developed from its inception with older Australians and placing their values at the heart of assessment of the quality and cost effectiveness of aged care innovations and services.”

The need for the new measure is industry-driven and the project is being conducted in partnership with aged care service providers: Helping Hand and ECH in SA, Presbyterian Aged Care in NSW and ACT, Uniting in NSW and ACT, and Uniting AgeWell in Victoria and Tasmania.

“This instrument is urgently needed and will give voice to what our consumers really want and value as they age,” says Megan Corlis, Executive Manager – Research and Development, Helping Hand.

The importance of quality of life to aged care consumers and their families has been highlighted in the ongoing Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety this year.

These assessments are important to support Consumer Directed Care and the successful implementation of the new Aged Care Quality Standards.

The research project is led by Professor Julie Ratcliffe, Head of Health and Social Care Economics at Flinders, with colleagues Dr Ruth Walker, Dr Rachel Milte, Dr Claire Hutchinson, and PhD candidate Jenny Cleland.

Professor Ian Cameron from the University of Sydney, Professor Emily Lanscar from the Australian National University, Ms Kate Swaffer from Dementia Alliance International, and Emeritus Professor Stuart Parker from Newcastle University, England are also collaborators.

About the new Caring Futures Institute

Flinders University’s Caring Futures Institute, launched on 13 August 2019, is Australia’s first ever fully dedicated research centre for the study of self-care and caring solutions leading to better lives, better communities and better health systems.

Posted in
College of Nursing and Health Sciences