Collaboration heralds new era of aged care research

The quality and depth of aged care research is set to be radically transformed by a new research collaboration funded by the federal government.

Flinders University and consultancy firm Wells Advisory have been awarded the stage one tender to develop an operational model for a $34m Centre for Growth and Translational Research in Aged Care.

The initiative will see the consortium establish and test a proof of concept for a comprehensive future research entity focused on the crucial mission of improving the lives of the elderly.

Consortium leader Professor Sue Gordon expressed appreciation to the Commonwealth for its strategic investment in this priority area.

“Flinders University in partnership with Wells Advisory welcomes the opportunity to apply its wealth of expertise in the field of aged care to create the foundations for a better approach to looking after the elderly – an approach informed by robust research and people-focused evidence, ensuring older people receive the care they deserve” says Professor Gordon, who is the Chair of Restorative Care at Flinders University’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences, a position co-funded by ACH Group an aged care provider in South Australia.

“This represents the first step in achieving sector-wide improvements in workforce capability, models of care, care quality, as well as improvements in overall productivity, investment, commercialisation and the uptake of new technologies.  Importantly, there is a focus on translation, to ensure the improvements are applied across our ageing society – noting a quarter of our population will be aged 65 or over by 2053, and care needs are increasing as we live longer, ” she says.

The initiative is a response to a 2018 report by the Aged Care Strategy Taskforce called  A Matter of Care – Australia’s aged care workforce strategy  which identified 14 strategic actions, including the establishment of an Aged Care  Centre for Growth and Translational Research (CGTR), to deliver improvements to the national aged care industry and align with the ongoing recommendations of the Aged Care Royal Commission. In 2019 the Prime Minister committed $34 million to establish the Centre; this project is the first stage.

Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Clare Pollock says the decision reflects Flinders University’s national leadership in the Aged Care policy arena.

“Our strengths span aged care policy, service delivery and all of life care – and are integrated with research in fields such as social work, psychology, nursing and medical care. It’s this holistic approach that drives Flinders research performance, and we look forward to working with Wells Advisory to deliver this nationally significant initiative for Australia” she says.

“Driven by a joint academic / industry consortium, backed by deep networks across Australia’s aged care sector, the project will leverage existing linkages across aged care, academic research collaborations, consumer groups and education providers to rapidly co-design a model for the Centre for Aged Care Growth and Translational Research – something that will, in some way, benefit all Australians” Professor Pollock says.

The consortium led by Professor Gordon will draw on the research expertise of Flinders University Professors including Alison Kitson, Anthony Maeder, Jennifer Tieman, Julie Ratcliffe, Maria Crotty, Tim Windsor and Karen Reynolds, alongside affiliates Kate Barnett and Megan Corlis, whilst Wells Advisory will provide strategic input from Michael Wells, Guy Edwards, Warren Sequeira, Glenn Swafford and Professor Andrew Flitman.

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