A study recently published in the Medical Journal of Australia looks at a new type of aged care facility.Both here in Australia and internationally there has been a move towards smaller living units that are more like homes, with staff focused on providing flexible and adaptable care. One of the key findings of the Flinders University study was that the clustered, home-like models of residential aged care led to better quality of life for residents at a comparable cost. Being an Aged Care Consultant my interest was spiked by this report.
Some of the findings were very positive, such as residents being less likely to be admitted to hospital, presenting to an emergency department, and 52% less likely to be prescribed potentially inappropriate medication. The report is part of the Investigating Services Provided in the Residential Care Environment for Dementia (INSPIRED) study, comparing patient-reported outcomes and resource use for over 500 residents of 17 facilities across four states.
Dr. Stephen Judd, chief executive of HammondCare, who runs this model of aged care, noted that the success of home-like models is not simply due to the physical environment but also the social model of care and approach to staffing. The clustered domestic models included in the study had small living units of 15 or fewer residents and independently accessible outdoor areas, with care staff allocated to specific living units, meals were cooked in the units with staff supporting residents’ self service of meals and participation in meal preparation.
“The issue of quality in aged care is always close to the community’s heart and this study suggests there should be increased access to alternative models of residential aged care, particularly those that have evidence of better outcomes for the residents” study lead Professor Maria Crotty said. Many of my clients would agree, I am sure. When assisting them to find an aged care facility in my role as an Aged Care Consultant, some would be more content in one of these clustered, home-like models, whilst still benefitting from daily support staff. it is pleasing to see studies such as this one exploring diverse models of aged care.