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NARI and ACH Group join forces to help nation’s elderly live their best lives

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The National Ageing Research Institute (NARI) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with ACH Group, one of South Australia’s leading aged care providers, bringing the organisations together to improve the health and wellbeing of older people.

The new agreement aims to strengthen the capacity of both organisations to jointly pursue research goals, provide expert leadership, and promote excellence in the field of ageing and aged care.

NARI acting director, Associate Professor Frances Batchelor, said the partnership will be invaluable to both organisations, fostering research and service delivery of the highest quality.

“By working closely with an aged care organisation like ACH Group, NARI will be able to embed our research into everyday practice,” she said.

“Building relationships with industry bodies allows for vital progress to be made, with the input and consideration of those at the heart of our work – older people and their carers.

“In this way, evidence-based interventions can be rolled out directly into care homes and services, and we can make positive change.”

We see the role of older people and the aged care sector as helping to determine what our research priorities should be. So, they help us ask the questions and identify the issues that they want addressed by research.

NARI acting director, Associate Professor Frances Batchelor

With both NARI and ACH Group focused on a ‘consumer-led approach’, the partnership will provide opportunities for new research, funding, and workforce capacity building, benefiting both parties and — most importantly — the older people they support.

Batchelor, pictured above signing the MoU with ACH Group CEO Frank Weits, told Aged Care News that such an approach is all about placing older people at the centre of the research process and related activities.  

“So when we talk about consumer-led approaches, what we mean is that we involve older people and the people who care for them — whether they’re family members or paid carers ­— very much having them as central to research and program development from the very start.

“We see the role of older people and the aged care sector as helping to determine what our research priorities should be.

“So, they help us ask the questions and identify the issues that they want addressed by research.

“Then they’re involved in all aspects of research, right from the start, from design right through to undertaking the research, and then through to dissemination.”

Our new partnership will cover that broader service design and issues, particularly in relation to policy and the aged care industry. We’ll also focus on helping older people at the coalface and helping them to live their best lives, whether or not they’re living at home… in a retirement village or whether they’re in residential aged care.

Assoc. Prof. Frances Batchelor

In terms of what the research will cover, Batchelor said it will involve developing new best-practice approaches related to both clinical care, as well as broader issues surrounding service delivery in the sector.

“Our new partnership will cover that broader service design and issues, particularly in relation to policy and the aged care industry.

“We’ll also focus on helping older people at the coalface and helping them to live their best lives, whether or not they’re living at home… in a retirement village or whether they’re in residential aged care.

“So I guess what we’re hoping for is to utilise both top-down approach and bottom-up approaches.”

Frank Weits, ACH Group CEO, said that embarking on this new strategic partnership will enable both organisations to maximise their capacities to produce positive, evidence-based outcomes for the aged care industry.  

“ACH Group is passionate about re-imaging aged care, including developing new models, technology and innovations to meet the changing needs of our customers,” he said.

“This collaboration will support ACH Group to make practical changes that will have a lasting positive impact on residents, home care customers, and carers.”

Batchelor added that the two groups have already begun collaborating on two promising research projects.

ACH Group is passionate about re-imaging aged care, including developing new models, technology and innovations to meet the changing needs of our customers. This collaboration will support ACH Group to make practical changes that will have a lasting positive impact on residents, home care customers, and carers.

ACH Group CEO, Frank Weits

“Currently, we’re working together on a project called PITCH, and that aims to support home care workers to provide the best care for people living with dementia and their family carers by providing training to home care workers regarding knowledge about dementia, the soft skills about how to care for people with dementia, what things to look out for, and how to give them the best experience with care and support family carers.

“The other is called BEFRIENDAS and it’s an innovative approach to improve mental health and social connection for older people living in residential aged care.

“It’s to do with volunteers who connect with residents… they befriend them, talk with them and engage around mutual topics of interest.

“So it’s not about providing a psychological treatment, but that real social connection.

“They’re two great projects, but we also are looking forward to an ongoing partnership and helping to define a strategy that will support research and embed research within the industry.”

The National Ageing Research Institute (NARI) is Australia’s only independent national research institute dedicated to ageing.

NARI is committed to improving the life and health of older people through research and its translation into evidence-based practice.

ACH Group is a South Australian not-for-profit community organisation promoting opportunities and services to support good lives for older people since 1952.

As well as accommodation options across Adelaide and the Fleurieu Peninsula, the group offers a range of health, wellbeing, respite, and help at home services, and social experiences.

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