In a first for the West Moreton Health catchment, a comprehensive care guide that assists registered nurses and personal care staff to recognise patient deterioration and provide enhanced evidenced-based care to aged care residents in their “home” is being trialled.
The Residential Aged Care Facility Project was launched this week at Ipswich Civic Centre by West Moreton Health, in partnership with the Darling Downs and West Moreton Primary Health Network and the University of Southern Queensland.
Modelled off a highly researched 2009 New Zealand study by the Waitemata District Health Board, the care guides will be trialled at two local aged care facilities – Milford Grange and Riverview Gardens – for six months before being evaluated by the University of Southern Queensland with a view to expand the program throughout the health catchment.
Supported by a West Moreton Health Nurse Practitioner working across the two aged care locations, the care guide aims to enhance thoroughness of nursing assessments, assist in care planning and promote early health intervention to prevent avoidable health declines and hospitalisations.
West Moreton Health Executive Director Nursing and Midwifery and project sponsor, Dr Robyn Henderson said working to improve residential aged care residents’ health journeys will have positive flow on effects for the health service.
“Enhancing the existing capabilities of nurses and personal care staff at aged care facilities to recognise when someone’s health is beginning to decline and identifying strategies they can put in place to prevent further deterioration in the facility – where they feel safe, comfortable and familiar – is a game changer,” Dr Henderson said.
“Not only will these elderly community members receive interventionist care in their home environment, we hope the project will help to reduce unnecessary hospitalisations which can have detrimental impact on elderly patients’ physical and mental health.
“The project is really about helping people get the right care, at the right time, in the right place,” Dr Henderson said.
Darling Downs West Moreton Primary Health Network Chief Executive Officer Merrilyn Strohfeldt said improving the delivery of primary health care services to those within aged care facilities was a priority for the Primary Health Network.
“One of our goals is to work closely with local hospitals, general practitioners (GPs) and allied health professionals to improve the health outcomes of aged care facility residents,” Ms Strohfeldt said.
“We know that elderly community members have the best health outcomes when they are cared for in their home environment and we’re excited to help create a sustainable program to ensure that aged care residents across our region can access enhanced safe, appropriate care with the aim of reducing presentations to emergency departments.
“The trial will empower nurses, relieve pressure off GPs working within the facilities and encourage residents to participate in the decision-making process of their care planning.
“The project ticks all the boxes of a great initiative and improving resident outcomes is at the heart of the project,” Ms Strohfeldt said.
University of Southern Queensland’s School of Nursing and Midwifery Associate Professor Clint Moloney said having quantifiable research measures as part of the trial will help test whether it can be adapted for other locations.
“Not only is this project looking to help the residents at Milford Grange and Riverview Gardens but the research side of the program will consider if it can be adapted for use in other parts of Queensland, or even Australia,” Associate Professor Moloney said.
“This project could have a big impact on how care is provided to residential aged care residents across the board.”
It is expected that the research team will know by September 2019 if the program has been successful in the two trial facilities.
Dr Henderson thanked the Darling Downs and West Moreton Primary Health Network and the University of Southern Queensland for partnering with the health service to deliver the project.
“At the end of the day we want the residents of the Riverview Gardens and Milford Grange nursing homes to benefit from better care as a result of the care guides and education program; and at the conclusion of the trial, we can look at ways to roll these resources out across all of West Moreton’s aged care facilities,” Dr Henderson said.