Aged care residents prefer small domestic model of care

Australian aged care residents rate the small domestic model of care as delivering the highest quality of care, according to a new study published.

The study, published in the International Journal of Quality in Health Care, is the first to ask Australian residents living in different models of long-term aged care to rate the quality of the care they receive.

Participants in the study, the majority of whom had a diagnosis of dementia, rated the overall quality of care as higher in clustered models of care. This model provided residents with greater flexibility and choice in their care routines compared to the standard residential aged care model.

HammondCare chief executive Dr Stephen Judd said the findings support the model of care the leading aged care provider has been delivering for decades.

“HammondCare’s approach to residential aged care is straightforward: let people make themselves at home. In your own home you have your own space, live by your own schedule, are engaged in meal preparation and cooking, and can go outside when you feel like it,” Dr Judd said.

“With some creative thinking from aged care providers, people living with dementia can still enjoy these freedoms. The study published today is further proof that this is the model of care consumers want, and through other parts of the INSPIRED research we know it delivers better outcomes and saves money in the long term.”

Dr Suzanne Dyer, a senior research fellow at Flinders University and an author on the study said: “It is important that we know the view of the residents and their families about the quality of care.

“The participants in our study rated the flexibility of care routines and being able to access the outdoors whenever they wanted as higher in a clustered, domestic model of care compared to those in more standard aged care homes.”

Previous methods of measuring the quality of aged care homes have largely focused on a regulatory perspective based on clinical outcomes. But the introduction of consumer directed care has meant understanding quality of care from the consumer perspective is critical.

The published study, titled “Clustered domestic model of residential care is associated with better consumer rated quality of care”, was conducted at Flinders University, Department of Rehabilitation and Aged Care. It used a simple questionnaire that they developed and validated to enable assessment of the quality of care from the perspective of residents or their family members.

While the amount of the care time provided was rated as similar between the types of care homes, the residents and family members rated being able to get outside whenever they wanted and the flexibility of the care routines as better in the clustered domestic models of care.

Kathy Williams, who cared for her mother with dementia and is involved in the study, is not surprised that residents and families felt the homelike models provided a better quality of care.

“In a small homelike environment people are living with fewer people, they have an opportunity to access outdoor spaces on their own.  They also have an opportunity to be involved in meal preparation and other activities, like they would in their own home.”

The results of this study are part of the Investigating Services Provided in the Residential care Environment for Dementia in Australia (INSPIRED) study, funded through the NHMRC Cognitive Decline Partnership Centre.

Publication: https://academic.oup.com/intqhc/advance-article/doi/10.1093/intqhc/mzy181/5085499?guestAccessKey=05d4bdf9-e679-4e01-8460-911a58033668

Download the lay summary of the findings below:

pdf Findings from the Investigating Services Provided In the Residential care Environment for people with Dementia (INSPIRED) study (300 KB)