Royal Commission’s paper on innovative models of care has no real surprises – but is essential reading

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There is limited evidence to back many innovative models of care from overseas – but there are promising ideas that warrant further study, the Royal Commission’s third research paper into aged care innovations argues.

The 85-page paper ‘Review of Innovative Models of Aged Care’ (with almost 26 pages of references) was compiled by the Flinders University, Bolton Clarke Research Institute, SAHMRI and Stand Out Report and examines approaches to aged care that are not widely available in Australia.

The researchers conclude there are several ideas from other countries that should be further investigated, including:

  • Training for people with dementia living at home and their carers to delay functional decline and reduce depression among carers.
  • ‘System navigators’ who coordinate access to care for people with dementia or other chronic health conditions (currently being trialled here through a program led by COTA).
  • Small group homes that maximise residents’ independence of residents and participation in daily activities and can be adapted for people with specialised needs such as those with dementia i.e. Group Homes Australia and NewDirection Care. “This model has been successfully implemented in Australia but has limited availability. Perceptions of higher cost may be a barrier; capital costs may be slightly higher but running costs can be no greater and may be less,” the report states.
  • Respite services suited to people’s background, such as farm settings for people with dementia living in agricultural areas.
  • Training and accreditation practices around providing culturally appropriate services for people with diverse backgrounds.
  • Telehealth for better access to health and other care services for people less able to travel or who live in remote regions.
  • Groups of individual units with shared supporting services, with smart-home technology and onsite nursing care, giving a sense of community and enabling couples to remain together.

Again however, there is not much new here – and as the report states, there are some providers rolling out these models here.

The paper also points out another fact: these approaches all depend on regulations and most critically, funding – and without the support of both, they can’t get off the ground.

The researchers also warn of another caveat.

“Most of the approaches described have limited evidence for their impact on recipient outcomes, so further evaluation would provide useful cost/benefit information to support wider implementation of promising approaches,” they write.

So, there’s not currently enough evidence to prove these approaches are effective – so more money will be needed to prove their worth.

It always seems to come back to cash.

There are solid ideas here though – making the paper a must-read for anyone keen for some insight into the future of aged care services in Australia.

Download the paper HERE.