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THE PROOF IS OUT THERE: Quality improvement across the aged care industry in key care areas

McDonald, T. A. & Holcroft, S., 2007



Background: Perceptions that healthcare standards have been improving over recent years, are difficult to sustain without details on changes in health personnel attitudes; data from quality assurance processes; clear standards for protocols and the collection of data on outcomes of care.

Objective: The aim of this project has been to answer the question, “Has the quality of healthcare improved in the Australian aged care industry?”

Methods: Over the past five years a growing interest from aged care managers keen to understand how well they are performing has prompted growth in awareness and confidence around key performance indicators. Aged care providers’ commitment to quality management reflects a culture of quality where voluntary monitoring of performance indicators enables strategies to be put in place to address impending declines in performance. Since 2000, over 500 providers across Australia have contributed to a database of key care and management outcomes which contains the proof. Access to the database was granted by Quality Performance Systems (QPS) to an independent research team at ACU National, and the analysis has revealed encouraging results in terms of improvements overall to resident outcomes.

Results: It was found that the rate of pressure areas in high care have reduced from an industry average of 10.6% in 2001 to 4.2% in 2006; Hospital transfers as a % total residents has fallen from 23% in 2001 to 10% in 2006; Resident aggression episodes as a % of total residents has dropped from 42% in 2001 to only 6% in 2006; whereas staff accidents per hour of work have reduced from 0.38 to 0.26. Trend data analysed for other indicators of quality aged care were also analysed in relation to resident outcomes.

Conclusions: While the results show improvements in key areas of aged care related to gains experienced by older people in residential aged care, the combined results demonstrate dramatic improvements in performance related to care outcomes. Consequently, the original question has been answered positively in relation to the 500 aged care services participating in this quality benchmarking project. The knowledge gained from the project provides much-needed acknowledgement of aged care service providers whose efforts often are not known because of the fragmented nature of the industry. With this new understanding of advances in aged care quality management and the use of process benchmarking, aged care providers are in a better position to manage services in ways that produce quality outcomes that can be measured and proven.

CITATION McDonald, T. & Holcroft, S. (2007) The proof is out there: Quality improvement across the aged care industry in key care areas. ISQua 24th International Conference: Boston USA.


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