Innovative assessment tools improve quality of life in aged care

New consumer experience and quality of life assessment tools designed for residential aged care by Flinders University will be rolled out nationally to support quality improvement and better health outcomes for older Australians.

The Australian Government is introducing six additional quality indicators for residential aged care, incorporating new consumer experience and quality of life tools developed by a multi-disciplinary research team led by Professor in Health Economics, Julie Ratcliffe, at the Caring Futures Institute.

The Flinders designed QCE-ACC (Quality of Care Experience Aged Care Consumers) and QOL-ACC (Quality of Life Aged Care Consumers) tools were created with older Australians accessing aged care services across both residential and home care settings and have been designed as person-centred tools for quality assessment and economic evaluation.

From 1 April 2023, the crucial tools developed at Flinders University will be incorporated into the National Aged Care Mandatory Quality Indicator Program (QI Program) to capture:

  • Consumer experience– Percentage of care recipients who report ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ experience of the service.
  • Quality of life– Percentage of care recipients who report ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ quality of life.

The QCE-ACC and QOL-ACC were developed from their inception with older people and have already been implemented with more than 1000 older Australians accessing aged care, to deliver an improved set of standards and provide transparency in aged care quality.

The QCE-ACC includes six questions focusing on key attributes to the quality of care experience and the QOL-ACC includes six questions focusing on key attributes of quality of life.

Professor in Health Economics, Julie Ratcliffe.

Professor Ratcliffe says the QI Program is providing older Australians with transparent information on the quality of aged care services to support their decision making about residential aged care.

“Our newly developed tools for measuring residential aged care outcomes are delivering on research identifying the quality of life indicators most important to older Australians, and directly addressing their contemporary needs, so we’re excited about promoting best practice with the upcoming national roll out,” Professor Ratcliffe says.

“Many Australians require support to enjoy a good quality of life and the need for effective assessment tools to address the quality of outcomes in the residential aged care sector can’t be overstated, particularly when ensuring residents are making the best decisions for their care moving forward.”

The expansion of the QI Program follows a rigorous process including analysis of the international literature, extensive sector consultation, technical expert input and a pilot in a nationally representative sample of residential aged care services.

The analysis paper led by psychometrics expert Dr Jyoti Khadka from the Caring Futures Institute and published in the journal of Quality of Life Research earlier this year, highlights the effectiveness of QOL-ACC in achieving its desired outcomes.

The QI Program currently requires residential aged care providers to report on five areas of care including: pressure injuries, physical restraint, unplanned weight loss, falls and major injury, and medication management.

Consistent with the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, these crucial new quality indicators will be introduced from April 2023 and reported by all approved providers of residential aged care in July 2023.

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