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SAHMRI Research Shows Feedback Pathways Are Key To Improving Wellbeing of Aboriginal Aged Care Consumers

Aboriginal Community Services has partnered with the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute to investigate how to best support the Social and Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB) of First Nations Elders receiving Home Care Packages.

Aged Care Coordinators and members of the research team from ACS & SAHMRI pose for a group photo.

Aged care coordinators and members of the research team from ACS & SAHMRI pose for a group photo.

The project began in 2022, and the study was proposed by our CEO, Graham Aitken, after ACS identified the need to better support clients receiving our services, and understand how the Home Care Package Program put forward by the government meets the needs of First Nations Clients.

The study comprised of three components including interviewing community members who were receiving HCP services across South Australia, as well as HCP coordinators, reviewing aged care workforce training programs, and hosting an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healthy Ageing and Aged Care Research Symposium.

The symposium united community members, Commonwealth and State Government representatives, aged care researchers, policy makers, community-controlled health organisations, advocacy services, health, aged care and community service providers. This took place on June 27th, and was divided into various sections including guest presentations, community member insights, a panel discussion, research presentations and roundtable discussions. The symposium shed light on the importance of improving feedback pathways between consumers, organisations, and policymakers.

Interviews with community members emphasised how central having a strong connection to culture and community is to their social and emotional wellbeing. It was found that the Home Care Package Program adequately addressed basic home maintenance needs. Though, some people found it difficult to understand their entitlements and often had to work closely with their coordinators to plan services.

Information gathered from interviews with members of the HCP workforce supported the notion that connection to community and culture was crucial to the social and emotional wellbeing of clients – with coordinators understanding cultural determinants of health. They find it hard to navigate SEWB needs of consumers who are on a lower-level HCP program.

The reviews that took place of the Vocational Education Training sector, higher education and health and aged care online repositories showed a limited amount of workforce training, resources, and development opportunities in SEWB specific to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s needs in aged care. Within the existing opportunities, there was a scarcity of training that included First Nations specific content areas.

The outcomes of this research will result in ACS and SAHMRI co-designing a training program tailored to those who work in First Nations aged care. The findings will also inform further research relating to creating integrated pathways across aged care, health, and social service delivery.

It was a pleasure to work with SAHMRI, and we will continue advocating for, and improving the support we provide to Elders!

Click here to learn more about the study.