Initiative aims to improve aged care across Asia Pacific

A group of 15 aged care specialists from the Asia Pacific region has met with Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner Janet Anderson in Sydney during a two-week fact-finding mission to gain insights into Australia’s aged care ecosystem.

A group of 15 aged care specialists from the Asia Pacific region has met with Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner Janet Anderson in Sydney during the final leg of a two-week fact-finding mission to Australia to gain insights into the nation’s aged care ecosystem.

The group – whose members come from India, Nepal, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh and the Philippines – has been participating in guest lectures, think-tank sessions and industry visits to aged care homes and government health departments in Adelaide and surrounds, Canberra and now Sydney as part of the inaugural Asia Pacific Aged Care Hub.

The APACH is a capacity-building initiative of the Aged Care Research and Industry Innovation Australia, Flinders University College of Business, Government and Law and Caring Futures Institute with funding support from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

ARIIA research director Professor Sue Gordon said the team behind the hub used its existing relationships to bring together the 15 APACH fellows who each have specialist aged care interest and an understanding of what is happening in their own countries.

“The aim of the program is to bring together people from the Asia Pacific region, who are working in aged care, to share learnings and understandings of what works well at a system level and on the ground,” Professor Gordon told Australian Ageing Agenda during the hub’s visit to University of Sydney on Thursday.

The full-day of interactive sessions included presentations from University of Sydney health and aged care experts and Ms Anderson. She told the group of multi-skilled health professionals, researchers and public health experts that she leaned into these opportunities of collaboration and shared learning.

Her hour-long talk and Q & A session on the history and role of the aged care regulator included information on the sector’s risk surveillance approach, complaints process and reforms underway including the new regulatory model and standards.

“It’s worth the effort and I want that to be the resounding message coming away from us. This is really worth doing,” Ms Anderson told the group.

Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner Janet Anderson addressing the Asia Pacific Aged Care Hub fellows and health and aged care experts from University of Sydney

On Friday, the tour included more expert-led sessions at University of Sydney and a trip to Bupa Aged Care Bankstown – the eighth such visit for the APACH fellows.

Over the two weeks, the fellows have experienced firsthand Australian models of best practice in aged care and learned about the requirements for workforce capability and adoption of technology based on evidenced practice from the Australian context. They’ve also had an opportunity to hear about mistakes and the lessons learned, said Professor Gordon.

Sue Gordon

“No country has got it all right and there are aspects that we’d all like to improve – and understanding perhaps Australia has a more mature aged care system, learning from what we’ve experienced is actually helpful.

“But also hearing about the initiatives that are happening in other countries that are in many ways more organic, which we’ve gone beyond, is really interesting.”

Despite the differing models and levels of system maturity across the Asia Pacific, there’s a universal focus for aged care across all the participants’ countries including Australia, Professor Gordon said.

“The commonality is that everybody wants to have relationship-based person-centred care, and they want to stay in their home for as long as they possibly can,” she said.

“But how do we do that? And particularly with the thin workforces, but also for many of the other countries is the lack of a formal system to support them. They are very family-based systems.”

While the tour ends this week, with participants flying back home on Sunday, the program and collaboration is set to continue. They will get together again for a virtual online forum, similar to one that occurred before the trip to Australia, said Professor Gordon.

“Then we’ll look towards travelling between our countries to progress these projects. We would like to see this continue as a network across the Asia Pacific of people making a difference to aged care and older people around the region.”

Main image: Asia Pacfic Aged Care Hub visiting fellows and Australian program participants at University of Sydney on 31 August

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Tags: ARIIA, flinders university, Janet Anderson, sue gordon, university of sydney,

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