Given very little is known about the quality of day respite centres, a new project will begin a conversation about the issues in respite service provision in Australia, says researcher.
A new research project is examining the quality of centre-based respite care in Australia and developing a toolkit to assist providers to evaluate their services.
The research, funded by the Dementia Collaborative Research Centres, is the first of its kind to examine this area of the Australian aged care system.
Lead investigator Dr Elaine Fielding said while the quality of the care provided in day respite services has been well studied in other countries such as New Zealand and the US, little was known about the situation in Australia.
Dr Fielding, a senior research fellow with Queensland University of Technology, said the overall goal of the project was to identify gaps in current service provision and enhance the delivery of centre-based respite care for people with dementia and their family carers.
“Given that very little is known about the quality of day respite services, this project will open the conversation about the issues in day respite service provision in Australia,” she said.
The research will evaluate various aspects of a service including the physical and social environment, the types of activities being delivered and the skill set of staff.
Dr Fielding said surveys and interviews would be conducted with service staff and carers of people attending centre-based respite.
Programs in every state and territory, in country and metropolitan areas and servicing a range of clients including CALD-specific services would be included, she told Community Care Review.
“We will survey about 40 centres – their managers and staff – to ask how the centre works, if they’ve had dementia-specific training, how confident they feel working with people with dementia and what issues they might have had in the centre with people with dementia.
“From the point of view of carers of people with dementia we want to find out things such how long they have been using the service and how does the person with dementia feel about the service.”
In addition, a panel of academics, providers and carers of people living with dementia will guide the development of a toolkit to measure care and dementia-friendly aspects of centre-based respite.
“We want to compile a resource for providers that helps them evaluate their own service and identify where they are at with regards to what we know as optimal care,” said Dr Fielding.
The final phase of the project will involve observing centre-based respite services and testing the toolkit.
Dr Fielding said the researchers wanted to understand what would help or hinder the adoption of the toolkit to measure and improve the quality of services.
While previous research has documented the experience of some users of respite, Dr Fielding said studies have not captured the perspectives of providers or observed what happens in centre-based respite.
“This project will provide a clearer picture of the day respite landscape and how we can assess quality within it.”
The one-year project, to be completed in mid-2017, involves four researchers from Queensland University of Technology as well as others from the University of Wollongong, University of Queensland and the University of Tasmania.
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