Over the past few months, a team worked with six providers, using two as a control, two receiving the four-week program and two received ongoing support for 12 weeks after they’d received the four-week program. The preliminary findings show the providers who received both the program and the ongoing support saw the best results in terms of feedback from residents relating to increased quality of life and satisfaction of care.
Professor Marita McCabe Institute for Health and Ageing (IHA) Director developed IHA’s Resident at the Centre of Care (RCC) Program with industry partners and other relevant stakeholders, such as mental health experts.
The program involves speaking with at all levels of staff in a residential care organisation to problem solve and discover what changes need to be made. “It’s not just about the resident being at the centre of care, it’s about them directing the care,” says Prof McCabe. “If a resident wants a shower at 8am and not 5am or before breakfast, what can be done to make that happen.”
The program looks at many aspects, such as what skills staff need to have to make it possible. “They [staff] need to communicate with the residents,” says Prof McCabe. “Listening to the resident is a skill and this won’t work unless we speak to the resident.”
However, she points out its not about just training up staff, it’s also about changing the organisation in the way it operates.
Residents are often concerned about expressing their thoughts, concerned staff are too busy and they don’t want to be a burden or be seen as a troublemaker. “We want to show it’s OK for them to speak, and say if they don’t want gravy already on their food,” she adds.
One aspect saw staff working with fewer residents but spending more time with them and carrying out a greater number of roles with the residents.
Prof McCabe argues with Australia’s ageing population – and in today’s world where customer-centric services are expected – it is more important than ever that aged care providers adopt a new approach for their business that both ensures high-quality, tailored services for its residents, and delivers a sustainable operating model that will meet the needs of its consumers for years to come.
“It’s more than just providing a service, it’s about staff supporting, communicating and empowering,” she says. “It’s the residents’ home and it’s what they want. They [providers] need to embed consumer directed care into their practices.”
Mr Kevin Mercer, Chief Executive Aged & Community Care, Mercy Health, one of the providers involved in the pilot, says Customer Directed Care (CDC) in residential care is an emerging field of importance.
"Training in CDC can help us better understand how to implement a care delivery model that is truly directed by the residents. Fitting in with Mercy Health’s model of care, a CDC approach is at the forefront of providing older people with what they want: a greater control over their lives within their home," he says.
"We believe that one of the barriers to CDC implementation is the limited knowledge about the best methods for training staff in performing CDC practices on the floor. The program being implemented by the Institute for Health and Ageing (IHA) at the Australia Catholic University will help address this gap.”
While a cost-analysis of the program had yet to be concluded, Prof McCabe doesn’t think it would cost much more to implement the model. She highlights other benefits to the organisation too; as staff are more in control of their work and build more of a relationship with residents, they will have increased job satisfaction. This, she believes will benefit the organisation with less absenteeism and a lower staff turnover.
“I’m really excited about these results – this program really makes a difference to people’s lives,” she says.
The program is currently been implemented in three more facilities, and the IAH is applying for funding to roll it out in 39 more facilities.
Should it be successful with its funding, Prog McCabe says they will be seeking more providers to work with.
The full findings of the pilot program will be released in June.