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2020 research projects

Australian Government Department of Health
April 2019 – March 2020


On 10 February 2019 the Australian Government announced a trial of an alternative residential aged care funding assessment tool, the AN-ACC assessment tool. This assessment tool was developed by AHSRI as part of the Resource Utilisation and Classification Study (detailed elsewhere in this report), as a possible replacement for the Aged Care Funding Instrument.

The purpose of the trial is to develop and test a model of external assessment for residential aged care funding. The trial will: (1) field test the assessment tool, IT systems and hardware, support arrangements, and assessment workforce management; and (2) collect data to validate the findings about the expected distribution of care recipient classifications.

AHSRI was engaged to provide trial design advice and complete a number of other activities to support the trial.

What we did

This project consisted of a number of interrelated activities. Namely:

  • Advice was provided relating to the design of the trial of the AN-ACC.
  • Specifications to inform AN-ACC assessment workforce procurement were developed.
  • An AN-ACC assessment operations manual was developed.
  • Team members presented and participated in a one-day facilitated discussion session with the assessment workforce providers (Access Care Network Australia, Aspire4Life, Care Tasmania, and Healthcare Australia).
  • AN-ACC training materials were developed, including a training manual and PowerPoint slides.
  • Assessor training workshops were delivered in collaboration with the Department, and with engagement by clinical peer educators.
  • An AN-ACC assessor competency test was developed, piloted and then delivered to each attendee of the assessor training workshops.

The trial started in November 2019. Over 150 aged care homes around the country, covering every state and territory, are participating, and it is anticipated over 10,000 assessments will be completed by April 2020.

Partners: IRT Group, Playgroup NSW, Bluehaven Care, Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District
2019 – 2020


Dementia is a global challenge that requires interdisciplinary thinking, collaboration and innovation to improve the lives of people living with dementia. With no effective medical treatments or cure in sight, there is increasing urgency to support the social health and wellbeing of people living with dementia and those at risk of developing it.

What we did

‘Connections for Life with Dementia’ is building understanding and taking action to support, and enhance the social health of people with dementia through reducing barriers and providing support for social, civic and care connections. Connections for Life with Dementia specifically explores how neighbourhood and home design (Design Connections); intergenerational play (Play Connections); and creative, personalised supports in aged care (Care Connections) can support people with dementia to live connected lives that are manageable, meaningful and comprehensible.

The project, led by Associate Professor Lyn Phillipson, brings together a strong group of interdisciplinary researchers from the Faculties of: Social Sciences; Science, Medicine and Health, Business and Engineering; and Information Sciences. The project has active partnerships with the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District, Kiama Municipal Council/Blue Haven Care, Playgroup NSW and the IRT Foundation. Finally, the project also draws on the expertise of people with dementia and their care partners.


Access more information about the Connections for Life with Dementia project

Duration: February 2019 – March 2020


Ericom, distributer of the Essence Care@home technology, received a grant from the Dementia and Aged Care Services (DACS) Fund to trial and evaluate the Care@home technology with 50 participants over 12 months. This product aims to improve the wellbeing of older Australians by monitoring normal movements and functioning for older Australians living in their own homes.

AHSRI has been commissioned by Ericom to conduct the evaluation of this trial. The evaluation will assess the effectiveness of this technology and the efficacy of Ericom’s Pers@home processes using various versions of the Essence technology.

The technology consists of a set of motion detectors which detect when there is movement in each room of the house and whether doors are opened or closed (usually the front door of the house and the door of the refrigerator). The sensors send wireless signals to the Essence digital/electronic box located in the house. This box compares the signals from the sensor to the normal routine of the household. The box contains a sim card like a mobile phone and will send an alert signal to the nominated carer which could be the aged care provider, a family member and/or the system control centre who would respond appropriately.

The results of the evaluation will provide important information on which to base decisions about the future development of this system.

What we did

The Ericom and AHSRI teams have met regularly to plan the research and obtain ethical approval. Ericom have worked with local aged care providers to engage 50 participants and install a suitable version of the Essence technology in their homes.

The AHSRI research team have collected relevant demographic data from Ericom and quantitative data covering the number of alerts triggered by participant, alerts correctly triggered by the Essence system, alerts falsely triggered by system and instances when an alert was not triggered when it should have.

Through interviews with participants and their family or carer, qualitative data are being collected on the perceived safety and ability to maintain independence afforded by the system so that the participant can stay living at home longer.

Global Challenges Program
Duration: April 2018 – March 2020


In 2018 the Coomaditchie United Aboriginal Corporation invited researchers from the Ngarruwan Ngadju research team to evaluate the Ngaramura (Supportive Pathways for Indigenous children in Schooling and Employment) program. This project pilot addresses the educational needs of disengaged youth in the Illawarra region. In collaboration with the Coomaditchie United Aboriginal Corporation and the project’s steering committee, the research team is conducting an evaluation which focuses on the delivery of the program at the Coomaditchie Hall in Kemblawarra, over a 12 month period.

What we did

The evaluation is being conducted in a staged approach. In Stage 1 we developed a program logic model which clearly described the inputs, activities, participants and the short, medium and long term expected outcomes of the project, through a series of interviews with key stakeholders. The evaluation framework also developed in Stage 1 set out the key questions for the evaluation and identified data sources for the evaluation. Stages 2 and 3 involved conducting a program evaluation over a 12 month period utilising the following sources of program and qualitative data:

  • De-identified routinely collected program data
  • Individual interviews with parents / carers of past and present students
  • Group and individual interviews with Ngaramura staff
  • Group and individual yarns with current and past program participants (secondary school students)
  • Onsite observation of the Ngaramura program
  • Interviews with school staff from the five participating schools.

Due to additional funding the Ngaramura pilot program has been extended. We have therefore extended the data collection period and expect to be report on the evaluation towards the end of 2020.

NSW Ministry of Health
July 2019 – July 2020


The Emergency Drought Relief Mental Health support package is an initiative of the Mental Health Branch, NSW Ministry of Health. It aims is to better support the mental wellbeing of people living and/or working in drought-affected communities. The initiative features a package of mental health counselling services and supports developed to provide additional interventions that cannot be met through existing NSW health services, to improve the health and wellbeing of farmers, their families and drought-affected communities.

It aims to deliver flexibly tailored services to where they are most needed using methods most appropriate to the local communities. It includes ‘on farm’ counselling services, linking people struggling with their mental health into support services and education and training for front line staff.

What we did

Prior to the commencement of the support package, the Ministry of Health commissioned the Sax Institute to broker and/or conduct two projects to contribute to the evidence base underpinning the initiative. The reports arising from each of these projects were made available to CHSD and have been instrumental in guiding the development of the evaluation implementation plan.

The evaluation will be conducted over a 12 month period and employs a cross-sectional mixed-methods approach utilising both quantitative and qualitative data. We will seek to compare and contrast both data sources and use the findings to draw conclusions about the overall outcomes. A key issue in the analysis will be to identify the barriers and enabling factors that have influenced the initiative as a whole.

In the final report (due in July 2020) we will present our findings and make judgements based on our interpretations of the various data elements. We see our role as presenting the evidence in such a way as to facilitate the translation of those findings into future policy decisions and actions.

First Response aims to investigate how the primary healthcare workforce can be supported to integrate culturally safe trauma-informed care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who have experienced violence. This project responds to recommendations for trauma-informed care within healthcare settings for women who have experienced violence, but also to women who have expressed a desire to seek support in healthcare settings rather than from the police or frontline services.

Wicking Trust
January 2019 – December 2020


This is a mixed methods evaluation and pilot of PCOC in residential aged care. Australian residential aged care services commonly lack palliative care expertise to provide complex care at end-of-life and PCOC delivers a successful program in the specialist sector to support the systematic measurement and improvement of patient outcomes. This project was launched in 2019. The project is developing the PCOC model for use in residential aged care services, resources and an approach to enable its successful implementation in this setting, and generating evidence toward the feasibility of PCOC in residential aged care. This initial project is also advancing the development of a road map to support the national application of PCOC in the aged care sector.

The project has involved a close research and development collaboration between PCOC, CHRISP and AHRSI teams. It is funded by the Wicking Trust, which provides funds to organisations that are well placed to affect systemic change to the quality of life of older people.

What we did

In 2019, the PCOC model was adapted and tailored for a residential aged care setting, an evaluation protocol and ethics application was developed with sites recruited to the project, and a data dictionary and the necessary IT infrastructure was progressed. A governance structure was also established, including an expert panel involving healthcare providers and researchers across the specialist palliative, primary care and residential aged care settings who contributed guidance toward clinical concepts and implementation. The new approach and research protocol has been shared with the palliative care sector, including at PCOC’s inaugural conference in November 2019, with this new stream of work receiving much interest.

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AHSRI research projects