Residents in aged care facilities that accommodate them in small, home-style environments rate quality of care higher than those living in standard aged care homes that are more in line with the traditional nursing home model, Flinders University research finds.
The research published in the International Journal for Quality in Health Care involved 541 participants from 17 aged care facilities and is part of the Investigating Services Provided in the Residential Care Environment for Dementia (INSPIRED) study funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council Partnership Centre on Dealing with Cognitive and Related Functional Decline in Older People.
The study aimed to compare the quality of care among residents living in long-term home-like care environments – often referred to as ‘cluster housing’ – to that of older people living in traditional residential care facilities, based on factors that residents considered important.
The amount of time care staff were able to spend individually with each resident was higher at facilities living in home-like models (48 per cent) compared to standard models of care (43 per cent). Shared spaces in the facility made residents living in clustered models feel more “at home” (61 per cent) than those in traditional care (60 per cent).
Access to outdoor areas and gardens (78 per cent), activities the facility offered that made residents feel valued (38 per cent) and flexibility of care routines (85 per cent) were also higher in facilities operating with clustered home-like care models.
Meeting consumer preferences
Flinders University senior research fellow and co-author Dr Suzanne Dyer said clustered models met residents’ preferences better than residential care.
“The clustered model of care can better meet consumer preferences, which in the current era of consumer-directed care is something providers are striving for,” Dr Dyer told Australian Ageing Agenda.
Higher investments in staff training, and direct care hours greater than 2.5 hours a day per resident, were also found among facilities operating home-like models of care.
Dr Dyer said there was more person-centred care shown by the higher rating for flexibility in care routines.
“Staff also provide support in involving the residents in domestic duties in the facility and prepare meals in the living units which may require more direct care time,” Dr Dyer said.
Participants of the study most valued flexibility in care routines and access to outdoor areas, she said.
“Providers may better meet consumer preferences by delivering person-centred care and enabling independent access to outdoor areas without decreasing the quality of care in other areas,” Dr Dyer said.
Dr Dyer’s earlier research found that implementing a clustered domestic model approach does not increase the costs of care for residential aged care providers. It also found that residents living in smaller home-like clusters have fewer hospital admissions (read more here).
Access the study, Clustered domestic model of residential care is associated with better consumer related quality of care here.
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