Melbourne Ageing Research Collaboration (MARC)

Melbourne Ageing Research Collaboration

The Melbourne Ageing Research Collaboration (MARC) is a unique collaboration of health, research, aged care and advocacy organisations working together to improve the lives of older people.

Our vision is that older people received the best possible care and support through services, programs and policies which support health and optimal quality of life.

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On the 24th of April, MARC hosted its first event of the 2020, the MARC Residential Aged Care Forum held in Webinar format. The sold out event including 60 attendees and three speakers focused on a multi-perspective view of residential aged care.

MARC director, Debra O'Connor, introduced the first speaker, Anne Fairhall, who provided a consumer perspective on supporting someone during the transition into residential aged care. As a dementia advocate and family carer, Anne detailed her experience in caring for her husband living with dementia, and her experience of him moving into residential aged care. Her presentation highlighted positive and challenging aspects of this transition and residential aged care in general. While patient-centred care and support through staff were described as important aspects, Anne also highlighted the need for more funding and staff training.

Next, we had Professor Kathy Eagar from the Australian Health Services Research Institute, who presented evidence from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. She highlighted that to improve residential aged care, the focus should be on the inputs (e.g. staffing), processes, outputs (e.g. funding) and outcomes (e.g. quality indicators). Costs are driven by individual needs for care due to residents’ diagnoses but are not driven by the diagnoses themselves. In terms of staffing, there was a direct relationship between staff numbers, skills, and quality and safety outcomes for consumers. She concluded that changes in aged care policy should be driven by the evidence base.

Finally, we had Dr. Joan Ostaszkiewicz, Director of Aged Care research at NARI, presenting on the dignity of risk in people living in residential aged care using continence care as an example. Dignity of risk outlines the principle of allowing an individual to have dignity through risk-taking. In residential aged care, continence care needs are high. However, there are often barriers to providing continence care to residents and staff have to balance their duty of care to protect residents from the indignity of incontinence while respecting residents’ right to decline assistance. Joan provided examples of how staff can ensure the residents’ dignity through continence, which includes anticipating needs, working in teams, avoiding to rush the person, and envisaging the experience from the perspective of the resident.

The session concluded with questions from the audience and a summary from MARC’s director, Debra O’Connor, who highlighted the importance of addressing the needs of staff, families and residents in residential aged care.

Watch Webinar Recording


Anne Fairhall

Kathy Eagar

Joan Ostaszkiewicz


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