Helping Hand joins national study to improve aged care services in South Australia - Helping Hand

Helping Hand joins national study to improve aged care services in South Australia


Helping Hand has become the only South Australian provider to join a national research campaign that will pave the way for significant improvements to residential and home care services for older people.

20 November 2019

Helping Hand has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Ageing Research Institute (NARI) to undertake ongoing research into residential and home care services, to help drive ongoing improvements within the sector. The partnership has been entered following the release of the Royal Commission in to Aged Care Quality and Safety Interim Report, and a year before the final report is due to be handed down.

“At Helping Hand we have made a commitment to transparency and responsiveness to the emerging issues from the Royal Commission,” says Helping Hand CEO Chris Stewart.

“We have already implemented a range of policy and system changes and this research partnership will further strengthen our capacity to respond to change and take a leading role in a transforming sector.”

Helping Hand will immediately join two research projects with NARI:

  • BEFRIENDAS – utilises trained volunteers to befriend residents living in residential aged care on a weekly basis with the aim of reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety and decrease loneliness and social isolation.
  • PITCH – developing and evaluating a dementia-specific training program for home care workers which will be co-designed with people living with dementia, their family carers, home care workers, case managers and service managers.

“We can’t make a difference in the lives of older people without having partners like Helping Hand that enable us to do our research directly with older people,” NARI director Briony Dow said.

“The benefit of working with an aged care organization is that where we find something that is going to help, we can actually roll that out into care homes and services and make a positive difference. Staff and volunteers will participate in training so the research will endure beyond the projects. It will have a lasting impact on residents and home care clients.”

Results from the projects are expected to be available at the end of 2020.

Helping Hand’s Executive Manager Research and Development, Megan Corlis, said the partnership with NARI would be invaluable in shaping Helping Hand’s service delivery into the future.

“We aim to use the NARI toolkit to attract more volunteers to our organization and increase social connectedness within our care homes,” Ms Corlis said.

“When people move into a care home, a common experience is that a great sense of community develops, but like all relationships and experiences – this takes time. These research projects are designed to have a positive impact on supporting the development of that community when new residents move in. The goal is that we will embed research outcomes into our everyday practices.”

Ms Corlis says PITCH, the project focused on home care clients with a diagnosis of dementia, is intended to support people to stay at home longer by increasing staff understanding and appreciation about independence and how to support this.


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