New research centre to help build a brighter future for aged care

Almost a year on from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, the federal government has announced a new aged care research centre that could help build better facilities, cut costs and improve quality of care.

Since the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety presented its Final Report to Governor-General, David Hurley AC DSC on 26 February 2021, a number of aged care reforms have since been rolled out including the announcement of a new aged care research centre.

The Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services Senator, Richard Colbeck, yesterday announced a new $34 million research centre to strengthen the future of aged care delivery in Australia.

The Aged Care Centre for Growth and Translational Research will open at Flinders University next year and will address long-standing barriers to development, evaluation, and uptake of aged care workforce research, develop innovations and technologies to improve workforce capability, collaborate with end users to co-design research priorities and projects, and educate the sector on how best to implement new innovations.

National Seniors Australia CEO Professor John McCallum said the new centre brings to fruition the 2018 Aged Care Workforce Strategy recommendation to establish a Centre for Growth and Translational Research.

“Australian aged care really needed this shot in the arm. It has rightly been under heavy scrutiny and criticism through the Royal Commission and needed an energy boost to move to a new level,” Professor McCallum said.

“Every industry needs a practical research base and aged care is one of Australia’s fastest growing industries. It has been branded by its regulatory failings which are now being addressed. Best practice regulation is now a topic of research around the world and new, safer approaches are coming into play. They focus on the provision of safe environments for consumers rather than providers.

“Applied research can build better facilities, provide better models of care and cut costs while also improving the quality of care. This has been seen in the development and management of chemical and physical ‘restraints’ to allow people to be cared for with greater dignity and safety for example.”

The centre’s research will initially focus on four priority areas – dementia care, restorative care and rehabilitation, mental health and wellbeing, and social isolation.

Professor McCallum said many Australian Aged Care providers have developed their own internal research centres, which now have the support and interaction with a national centre, and there will be strength in numbers.

“There’s no time better for such an initiative than the present as we undergo major reform in aged care and National Seniors Australia congratulates the federal government for this significant step to help improve the quality of aged care services,” Professor McCallum said.

The centre is expected to be operational by February 2022.