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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Australian-first dedicated aged care research centre opens in Adelaide

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A unique new research centre that not only enables knowledge and evidence, but then supports implementation of its findings, is being launched in Adelaide in an Australian first.

Aged care Research and Industry Innovation Australia (ARIIA) is Australia’s first dedicated centre with a core purpose of providing resources and assistance to the nation’s aged care workforce to deliver best practice care and support for older Australians today, and for generations of older Australians to come.

There has never been a greater need for the unique care and support older people require. By 2053, a quarter of our population will be aged 65 or over, with reliance on these services only increasing in the decades to come.

Flinders University deputy vice chancellor (research), Professor Robert Saint

Conceived by Flinders University in conjunction with aged care consultancy firm Wells Advisory, ARIIA works directly with older people, their families and care providers to ensure research is translated directly and immediately into practice.

Flinders University Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) Professor Robert Saint says ARIIA is the result of a $34m Federal Government investment in transforming aged care service delivery.

“What we witnessed in the aged care royal commission shocked and disturbed Australians,” Saint says.

“We can and must do better in supporting the dignity, care and wellbeing of older Australians, and ARIIA represents a whole new approach to achieving that.

“There has never been a greater need for the unique care and support older people require.

ARIIA provides an unparalleled opportunity to not just fix something broken, but make real improvements based on high quality research to prevent the circumstances outlined in the royal commission ever happening again.

Professor Saint

“By 2053, a quarter of our population will be aged 65 or over, with reliance on these services only increasing in the decades to come.

Saint says unlike traditional research which explores an issue and then publishes results which may or may not be acted on, ARIIA comes equipped with funds to be invested directly in areas of need to make changes based on its research findings.

“It’s a new approach designed to ensure research outcomes are put directly into practice and changes are delivered right away.

“ARIIA provides an unparalleled opportunity to not just fix something broken, but make real improvements based on high quality research to prevent the circumstances outlined in the royal commission ever happening again,’ he says.

ARIIA director Professor Sue Gordon says ARIIA has been given three years to make a difference and is already distributing grant funding to priority areas.

“When we won the Government funding as the Centre for Growth and Translational Research (CGTR) in December we wasted no time in our research mission – the clock was ticking and we were determined to begin researching the sector’s needs and get research going where it is most needed,” Gordon says.

ARIIA will translate research outcomes into real world solutions with an efficiency and immediacy previously unheard of, empowering and enabling the aged care workforce to incrementally and continually improve their practices, and the care they deliver daily.

ARIIA director, Professor Sue Gordon

“We felt it important to distinguish between the planning and tender process undertaken by the CGTR, and the real-world actions of our unique research mission, and that is why ARIIA was born.

Gordon says by bringing together world-leading researchers, industry experts and older people themselves, ARIIA provides a unique opportunity to address the needs of older Australians through the co-design, development, and testing of — essentially — anything that research identifies as making life easier for older generations. 

“And perhaps even more importantly, ARIIA will translate research outcomes into real world solutions with an efficiency and immediacy previously unheard of, empowering and enabling the aged care workforce to incrementally and continually improve their practices, and the care they deliver daily,” she says.

“Historically, the translation of research evidence into practice has been a stumbling block, on average taking 17 years from discovery to implementation — and even then, only about 14 per cent of research evidence is fully implemented and integrated into practice.

ARIIA will ensure that the discoveries made through research are instead translated into real world changes in practice and processes with an immediacy that will improve the quality of living for all older Australians now and into the future.

Professor Gordon

Gordon says no longer will valuable research evidence be ‘left to gather dust on the shelves’.

“ARIIA will ensure that the discoveries made through research are instead translated into real world changes in practice and processes with an immediacy that will improve the quality of living for all older Australians now and into the future,” she says.

ARIIA’s 2022 priorities are to offer grants specifically to address areas of urgent and critical need, dementia, and restorative care and rehabilitation.

It’s intended that by the time the three years funding concludes in June 2024, ARIIA will be positioned to become a self-sufficient, industry-led independent body.

About ARIIA

With three main interconnected workstreams, each with their own focus, ARIIA will enable sector wide transformation through the expertise and experience of leading researchers and industry experts.

Professor Jennifer Tieman leads a knowledge and implementation hub that will be accessible to all Australians.

This web-based hub will be the home of easily understandable and applicable research findings and information, for use by the aged care sector and anyone caring for an older person in their own home.

The delivery of the aged care partnering program is led by Professor Karen Reynolds and Professor Gill Harvey.

The ACPP will facilitate the introduction between aged care providers and workforce and industry experts/relevant stakeholders such as a technology vendor, a nutritionist, a consumer, or a researcher to co-design solutions for aged care problems.

Professor Sue Gordon leads ARIIA’s priority activities, in training and educating the aged care workforce.

This includes developing and deliver a training program for aged care workers – from care workers to administrators.

These workers will be changemakers and leaders, taking new approaches and embedding them with colleagues, who will in turn pass on the skills and knowledge they have learnt as they go about their working days, transforming how aged care is designed and delivered in real time.

ARIIA is being launched this morning with guests Anika Wells Federal Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Sport (speech via video), Louise Miller-Frost, Federal Member for Boothby, Catherine Hutchesson, State Member for Waite, Penny Pratt, Member for Frome and Shadow Minister for Regional Health Services; for Ageing; for Preventative Health and Wellbeing, Professor Robert Saint, deputy vice chancellor (Research) Flinders University and Professor Sue Gordon, director, ARIIA.

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