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 Australian National Aged Care Classification (AN-ACC) assessment tool. This assessment tool was developed by AHSRI as part of the Resource Utilisation and Classification Study, as a potential 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: (1) field tested the assessment tool, IT systems and hardware, support arrangements, and assessment workforce management; and (2) collected 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:

  • Advice was provided relating to the design of the trial of the AN-ACC.
  • Specifications to inform AN-ACC assessment workforce procurement were developed, as were an AN-ACC assessment operations manual and AN-ACC training materials.
  • Team members presented and participated in a oneday facilitated discussion session with the assessment workforce providers.
  • Assessor training workshops were delivered in collaboration with the Department, and with engagement of 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 of the AN-ACC assessment framework started in November 2019. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which included restricting non-essential access to aged care homes, led to resident assessments ceasing in early April 2020, at which point 7,387 AN-ACC assessments were completed across 122 homes. The trial concluded that:

  • it is fit for purpose;
  • it can be expanded to a national scale; and
  • AN-ACC assessments are able to be efficiently completed by an external assessment workforce.

Australian Research Council Linkage Grant Scheme
2016 – 2020


This project explored a key question of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS): will service provision improve when service users have the ability to choose? In 2016, roll-out of the NDIS commenced, with nearly half a million people with a disability being able to choose disability services.

What we did

The project aimed to identify changes in objective and perceived consumer value pre-NDIS and post-NDIS, and differences in how market segments use their autonomy and whether this leads to differences in benefits gained from the NDIS. Findings are intended to contribute to a better understanding of when free market mechanisms serve the needs of their citizens better than traditional means of government support.

Duration: February 2019 – September 2020


Ericom, provider of the Essence Care@Home technology, received a grant from the Dementia and Aged Care Services (DACS) Fund to trial and evaluate their system known as the Pers@Home solution. This system (technology sand protocols of use) aims to improve the safety of older Australians living in their own homes by monitoring their normal movements and functioning. 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 and the door of the refrigerator). The sensors send wireless signals to the Essence digital box located in the house which compares the signals from the sensor to the normal routine of the household. If the system detects a variation to regular routine, an alert is sent to the nominated carer (which could be the aged care provider, a family member and/or the system control centre) who would respond appropriately.

AHSRI was engaged by Ericom to conduct the evaluation of this trial. The evaluation assessed the effectiveness of this technology and the efficacy of Ericom’s Pers@Home processes using various versions of the Essence technology.

What we did

Fifty participants were recruited by Ericom through three aged-care providers. We collected, analysed and interpreted a range of data over a one-year period. Quantitative data included the number of alerts triggered by participants, alerts correctly or falsely triggered by the system, and instances when an alert was not triggered when it should have been. Qualitative data collected through interviews with stakeholders including participants and their family or carer examined the perceived safety and ability to maintain independence afforded by the system to enable participants to continue living at home longer.

The evaluation found that technologies can play a role in monitoring the physical wellbeing of people living at home as they age and alerting appropriate responses when a problem is detected, which can assist their independence and safety. However, individual needs and circumstances vary so that improvements are needed to existing systems to account for the complexities of aged care. In particular there should be more emphasis on the human factors of such systems and their integration into all support services provided to older people living at home.

Our final report contained a set of recommendations concerning (a) future trials of this nature (b) the design of monitoring systems to include improved technical and human factors and (c) the integration of technology-based systems into a total care package for those ageing in place.

NSW Ministry of Health
July 2019 – July 2020

Download the final report


The Emergency Drought Relief Mental Health Supports Package aims is to better support the mental wellbeing of people living and/or working in drought-affected communities. It comprises a package of mental health counselling services and supports developed to provide interventions that cannot be met through existing NSW health services. It aims to deliver flexibly tailored services to where they are most needed, and 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

The evaluation established that the initiative met a genuine and previously unmet need for services. Drought Support Teams delivered more than 4,000 one-to-one services (brief interventions and counselling sessions) to more than 1,750 individuals. Importantly, more than half of these were provided by peer workers employed in roles that did not exist prior to the establishment of the initiative. The Rural Adversity Mental Health Program and the National Association for Loss and Grief provided a coordinated program of activity focused on increasing awareness of mental health services. This involved participation in approximately 800 community events with 30,000 attendees over 18 months, and a significant volume of information and mental health resources being disseminated. Overall, the evaluation concluded with a high degree of confidence that each component of the initiative made an important contribution to achieving the broad goals of the program.

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.

Australian Research Council Discovery Project
March 2017 – June 2020


Natural disasters have profound economic and social impacts on individuals and communities; but a comprehensive understanding of these impacts is missing from academic literatures and policy inquiries.

What we did

This project described and identified the impacts of Australian natural disasters – such as the Black Saturday bushfires and Brisbane floods – on important microeconomic outcomes, including health, education and employment. By analysing field, survey and administrative data on individuals before and after past disasters, the project investigated the effects of disasters on individuals and how effects may be lessened.

Australian Government Department of Health, in partnership with The George Institute for Global Health

June 2019 – June 2020


The National Injury Prevention Strategy is a 2018-19 budget measure to be developed over 2018-19 to 2019-20. The Strategy will update and build on the previous National Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion Action Plan (2004-2014). It will provide a policy platform to support interventions that reduce the risk of injury amongst the Australian population taking a whole of population and all-ages approach. Vulnerable groups including children and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will be a specific focus.

What we did

Ngarruwan Ngadju is working with a consortia of researchers from various universities, under the leadership of The George Institute for Global Health which has been contracted by the Commonwealth Government to produce an evidence-based National Injury Prevention Strategy developed with wide consultation. A literature review has been completed and a series of round tables of key stakeholders undertaken to scope the Strategy and identify the priorities and action plans to be included. The team has continued to work actively with the Expert Advisory Group on the development of the draft Strategy throughout 2020.

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