Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA May-Jun 2014 Contents IN AN ENVIRONMENT where aged services
are expected to do more with less, to meet
an ever-increasing demand for services,
and to continually innovate and improve,
evidence-based practice and policy will be
This reality will refocus minds on the
need to create a robust research culture in
aged care, by nurturing research on ageing
issues, by ensuring research findings become
practice at the coalface, by improving linkages
between researchers and the sector, and
by aged services influencing the research
agenda and how it is funded.
In her first column in AAA as president of the
Australian Association of Gerontology (AAG), Dr
Briony Dow tackled the issue of research in aged
care, and said the imperative was knowledge
exchange; greater collaboration between
researchers, providers and older people.
"Researchers bring research evidence
and knowledge of research methods; service
providers bring knowledge of the practice
context; and consumers bring their knowledge
and experience of the issues," she wrote in
the January February 2014 issue.
Barbara Squires, head of research and
advocacy at IRT, takes that concept further
and describes a circle which, along with
research and practice, includes policy and
education/dissemination. All four are equally
virtuous and interrelated points on the circle.
A central issue, says Squires, is the
contribution of frontline aged care staff to the
design and development of research. "This
would help ensure the research is of good
quality and practical, because researchers
can't be expected to understand all the
nuances of real life at the coalface."
Echoing this, Professor Jeni Warburton,
AAA puts an
under the spotlight,
issue: research in
who holds the John Richards Chair of Rural
Aged Care Research at La Trobe University,
highlights the dual strengths researchers and
practitioners bring to the table.
"Both researchers and practitioners are
needed to work collaboratively to create and
foster a robust research culture that builds
appropriate evidence that can then feed into
practice development," she says.
"It is essential in this context to look at
research as a process; clarify roles, recognise
different expectations, and then communicate
effectively within the team."
RESEARCHING IN REALITIES
A common complaint is that research is
conducted at a distance from the sector
and is not informed by the policy and
practice realities of aged care; the proverbial
academics in their ivory towers.
"One of the banes of my life is researchers
who come with a really detailed plan about
how they're going to do their research; it's very
elegantly designed with the control group, the
sample size and so forth, but the problem is
it's completely impractical," says Squires.
A surprisingly large number of researchers
have not "caught up with the times" and very
often think of residential aged care as it was a
decade ago, she says.
"They assume you can still go into low
level facility or hostel and find people who will
happily volunteer for research intervention. What
they don't realise is that group of more active,
cognitively intact but slightly frail older people
are not in residential care any longer, they're in
their own homes receiving community care.
"Researchers haven't caught up with the
fact that people in residential care are primarily
there because they have fairly advanced
dementia, or they are at the palliative end, or
they're extremely frail."
When researchers learn of this reality they
also discover that the new paradigm is a more
A study in collaboration
By Darragh O'Keeffe
WHAT THEY SAID
Our ageing pop-
ulation requires a
new approach to
All research initi-
atives have to be
grounded in the
reality of the older
practitioners need to
to create a robust
In this new environ-
ment of consumer
directed care the
demand for best
practice will grow
22 | MAY-- JUNE 2014 | AAA
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