A group of the nation’s leading community care experts have come together to develop a list of the top 30 research priorities for the sector.

The National Community Care Research Agenda is a joint initiative of Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA), the Australian Association of Gerontology (AAG) and the ARC/NHMRC Research Network in Ageing Well.

Topping the list of research issues is the need to identify the models of care that best support older people who have little informal support.

Nine of the 30 research priorities focus on models of care in the community.

Other broad themes on the list include measuring the effectiveness of community programs, the care workforce, psychogeriatric care, benchmarking and care trajectories.

According to AAG president, Professor Gill Lewin The agenda is an important step in determining the direction for community care programs in Australia.

“We need to build the evidence base so that we can be sure we are providing the best for the people we are delivering services to,” she said..

“But that research needs to be targeted. It’s no good for us all to go off in our own direction and do our own things.”

The initiative began over two years ago at the 2008 ACSA National Community Care Conference, where delegates were asked to share their views on the key research questions through a ‘wishing line’ and an interactive workshop.

Now that the research agenda has been set, Professor Lewin says it’s crucial that the findings from future studies are incorporated into practice.

“There’s nothing more depressing than university researchers sitting in their offices generating hypotheses without talking to the providers whose work their projects are going to effect,” she said.

“Equally frustrating is doing the research and not having it put into practice. Researchers need to work with providers from the beginning so they are involved in defining the project and so that they own it and are eager to put it into practice.”

The research agenda contains a guide for community care providers explaining how they can become involved in research.

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