Federal funding for the creation of new aged care research centre

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Flinders University will lead an aged care initiative bringing together the sector, seniors and experts with the goal of transforming the way Australia supports its ageing society.

The three year $34 million-dollar initiative will develop new products and services. Federal government funding will be bolstered by in-kind contributions from supporting partners.

Flinders University and consultancy firm Wells Advisory will jointly establish the Aged Care Centre for Growth and Translational Research.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling said the centre will help develop the capability of Australia’s aged care workforce and translate research into best practice.

"Dementia, restorative care and rehabilitation, mental wellbeing, and social isolation have all been identified as priority areas for the Centre in its first year," said Professor Stirling.

"Capitalising on Flinders University’s strong national aged care sector partnerships and research strengths, the Centre is supported by 73 collaborative partners including consumer advocacy and representative groups, aged care service providers, research organisations, translation and commercial partners, social enterprise organisations, peak bodies, workforce development organisations and the South Australian Government.

"It’s carefully considered, it’s comprehensive, and crucially, it will ensure the voices and needs of older people and their families are central, and are heard," said Professor Stirling.

The centre will employ 30 staff and deliver 600 internships for aged care workers. It will also fund around 60 translational research grants to improve aged care.

The establishment of the centre is in response to Australia’s Aged Care Workforce Strategy and supported by the federal government’s response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

The centre represents a “once in a generation opportunity” to transform the way Australia supports its ageing society, said Professor Sue Gordon, Professor of Healthy Ageing.

“Societies are judged on how they look after the least capable members in their community, and we thank the federal government for acknowledging the strategic importance of a capable workforce providing evidenced care and look forward to applying our wealth of expertise to enable transformational reforms through translation of research to practice which achieves sector-wide improvements,” said Professor Gordon.

“The Centre will develop and deliver translational research projects reflecting the sector’s priorities and we’ll review them annually. The most important outcome will be to drive growth in the provision of aged care that is aligned with innovation and based on increased workforce capacity and capability, enabling change that is safe, delivers high-quality outcomes, and increases the opportunity for all Australians to enjoy healthy, well-supported ageing.”

Opportunities for industry and community to engage with the centre will include hands-on research project involvement, the sharing of skills and knowledge, and developments in workforce education and training.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Robert Saint said the centre will further position Flinders University as a national centre for aged care research and development.

“By taking on this considerable and privileged task, we will harness our own research expertise and engage researchers from across Australia to effectively address national aged care challenges with real and meaningful change – because we can’t afford to leave behind the Australians who got us to where we are today.

“The Centre will enable aged care staff and our researchers, to carry out research projects in collaboration with our industry partners, directly facilitating improvements in the sector as a result. We’ll apply the research through education and training programs to introduce innovations and improve caring practices, to the benefit of the aged members in our community.”

The centre's translation and commercialisation activities will be developed through a partnership with management consulting firm Wells Advisory.

“We’ll be looking for ways the market can help drive important innovations in aged care delivery that translate and apply research in a commercial context,” said Michael Wells, the managing director of Wells Advisory Australia and UK.