Carer support

Research Project

Supporting carers’ navigation of older adults’ care transitions to the community

About this project

Informal carer support during older adults’ care transitions is crucial to regaining independence and a quality ageing experience. When transitional care is ineffective, problems arise including early re-admission to hospital and unwanted placement in residential aged care. Using co-design methods, ‘Supporting carers’ navigation of older adults’ care transitions to the community’ aims to support the development of resources for informal carers during the care transitions of older adults.

The study is significant because it will inform future research to develop and test a resource/s to support informal carers. Transitional care, including discharge planning, is defined as the continuous care for patients across different programs and settings. In Australian community-aged care models based on consumer-directed care, older adults and informal carers are expected to take greater responsibility for their transitional care. Yet carer roles and needs during older adults’ care transitions, including from hospital to home, are largely unknown.

In this study, we asked the question: What are informal carer roles and needs during the care transitions for older adults living with chronic illness in community-aged care? To address this question, we established a Carer Advisory Group, including informal carers of older adults and peak body representatives, to provide guidance to the study. The first phase of the study involved telephone interviews with informal carers and health practitioners providing transitional care to older adults. The interviews enabled a detailed understanding of the informal carer role, and the development of a survey. In the second study phase, informal carers of older adults were invited to test the survey. The study is due for completion in June 2022.

Project funded by Australian Association of Gerontology, Strategic Research Grant (awarded 2019)

Research team

Including:

  • Professor Patricia Livingston, Associate Dean Research (Faculty of Health), Centre for Quality and Patient Safety Research, Institute for Health Transformation, Deakin University
  • Professor Alison Hutchinson, Chair in Nursing (Monash Health), Centre for Quality and Patient Safety Research, Institute for Health Transformation, Deakin University
  • Associate Clinical Professor Rhonda Brown, Deakin University School of Nursing and Midwifery, Northside Clinic
  • Associate Professor Michelle Lobchuk, University of Manitoba, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, College of Nursing