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Research progressing on quality of life measure


Interviews with aged care recipients are underway to inform a new tool for providers to assess and measure the quality of life of people in their care.

Flinders University’s Caring Futures Institute is almost a quarter of the way into the three-year project to develop the quality of life measure in collaboration with five aged care providers (read our backgrounder here).

Providers will be able to use the tool in quality assessments with clients. The quality of life measure will also quantify older people’s preferences, which can be used in the economic evaluation of aged care services.

Lead researcher Professor Julie Ratcliffe said the project is eight months in and has almost completed the first of three phases.

“The research is a three-year mixed methods project in which we will use qualitative research to identify the dimensions of quality of life most important to older Australians,” Professor Ratcliffe told Australian Ageing Agenda.

“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,” she said.

Professor Julie Ratcliffe

Researchers have conducted 30 interviews with home aged care clients and will soon undertake interviews with about 40 aged care residents.

The next phase involves finalising the content of the tool then testing it with residential and home aged care clients.

Approximately 300-400 aged care recipients and 30 to 40 staff at five aged care facilities across Australia will participate, Professor Ratcliffe said.

“Finally, we will employ health economic methods to develop a preference weighted scoring system reflecting the values of Australians and making the tool suitable for economic evaluation using the quality of life and wellbeing of older Australians as the measure of outcome,” she said.

The researchers may develop separate tools for residential and home aged care if the preferences about quality of life are vastly different, she said.

Professor Ratcliffe said the project has also applied for funding so they can target people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

She said the need for the new measure was industry-driven.

The aged care providers partners 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,” said Megan Corlis, executive manager of research and development at Helping Hand.

Professor Ratcliffe said the completed tool will be shared with aged care organisations and peak bodies.

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