By Yasmin Noone
Residential aged care facility managers and directors of care best keep an eye on their snail mail letterbox and email inbox over the next few weeks.
That’s because the Dementia Collaborative Research Centre (DCRC): Carers and Consumers is soon to contact nearly every Australian single facility, small and large, to invite each to participate in its upcoming national survey of research.
The National Survey of Research in Residential Aged Care: Activity, Access and Issues will be conducted to help the centre fill the gaps in knowledge about what research is being done to improve the care of residents with dementia.
Director of the DCRC: Carers and Consumers, Professor Elizabeth Beattie, said this project marks the first-ever national snapshot of research activity within residential aged care facilities across Australia.
It will also be the first to indentify issues associated with the conduct of research in the residential environment.
“Research in residential aged care is not something we know very much about,” Prof Beattie said.
“We know there are a number of facilities engaged with researchers conducting studies but we don’t know the scope and focus of the studies.”
A broad sample base and a high survey participation rate, she added, will ensure that results are representative of the whole sector. And, it will also help the team to understand the type of providers out there and where they are located.
“This survey is intended to build a baseline database for us to get an idea of the proportion and characteristics of facilities that are currently involved in research or [which express] a desire to be involved in the future.
“One reason to be part of this is that your voice will be heard, [as will] your opinion about what your facility would like to see from researchers and the research community, in terms of dementia research.
“Your opinion will help us to plan future ways of getting in touch with the industry and finding out what providers need to host research.”
Project manager from the DCRC at the Queensland University of Technology, David Wellman, said the survey will be online, anonymous and “very easy to do”.
“We have piloted it and [believe] it will take between 12 to 35 minutes to complete, depending on how much access the facility has had to research in the previous six months,” Mr Wellman said.
“Many facilities will have had little or no research – we half know that will be true, especially for those which are more isolated than others.”
The online survey will remain active for four weeks – until the end of April – and does not have to be completed in one session. Participation in the survey is voluntary.
The DCRC team expect the completed survey results will be analysed and ready for dissemination by the second half of 2013. They also plan to provide the results to the sector via various media channels and at industry events.
Prof Elizabeth Beattie
Prof Beattie said the survey’s results should provide the sector with a better idea of how widespread research activity is across the sector; the scope and focus of research activities; where research is and is not taking place; what issues facilities experience with research involvement; and what research topics are of concern to facility staff.
“There are about 290,000 people with dementia in Australia…and around 30 per cent of these people are living in residential aged care right now,” Prof Beattie said.
“The situation for those in residential care is very challenging and complex, and these people need high quality care.
“Anything that can tell us how to better care for people in residential aged care will move us along.
“…We need people to understand that research builds knowledge and knowledge improves care. And care needs to improve…Quality care means a better quality of life.”
Mr Wellman explained that at the moment, facility managers need rest easy: there is no need to do anything at the current time except await their invitation.
However, if an invitation has not been received by the middle of March, it is best to contact the centre (see details at bottom of article).
“If we haven’t heard from us, please contact us. We would be delighted to hear from you.”
For more details, contact David Wellman on 07 3138 3885 or via email at email@example.com