A Queensland academic will play an important role in an international comparative research project looking at the quality of rehabilitation care for older people.

Associate Professor Jeffrey Soar from the University of Southern Queensland was approached by the study’s coordinators because of his extensive work on assistive technology for older people through the Collaboration for Ageing & Aged-care Informatics Research (CAAIR).

The Japanese researchers were particularly impressed with Associate Professor Soar’s efforts to develop the Queensland Smart Home Initiative, which in its second phase, will see 100 occupied smart homes spread across the state.

The international study will compare records from the Japanese Ministry of Health with data from the UK, the USA and Australia.

Support for the project, which will focus on the economic impact of rehabilitation, will be provided by the Pfizer Health Research Foundation.

Associate Professor Soar said the Japanese have shown a keen interest in Australia’s health system, commenting on how effective it is.

“It is interesting because many people in Australia are sceptical about our health care but many other countries are envious of what we have,” he said. “That’s not to say there are no problems or areas for improvement,”

The program will begin in 2009, with the first stage expected to be completed within 12 months.

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