A researcher who has helped developed a tool to measure outcomes in community services wants to see it become a national, standardised model to assess how well the new system is doing under consumer directed care.
Dr Beatriz Cardona from Macquarie University told an ageing conference in Sydney that there is currently no effective system for measuring outcomes across the sector.
The Australian Community Care Outcome Measurements (ACCOM) was developed specifically for use in the Australian community care context and was successfully piloted in 2016-17 with 234 consumers who were accessing level 1-4 Home Care Packages.
Dr Cardon says a pilot study found the tool was useful for care planning, goal setting and care review as well as being a viable and effective system for measuring the quality and effectiveness of community care.
It was also shown to be useful for devising individual care plans and for service level analysis, comparisons and potential benchmarking.
The research team would like to see the system rolled out nationally, Dr Cadona told the cepar International Conference of Long-term Care Directors and Administrators on Friday.
“A national system is important because we need consistency, we need to be able to compare,” Dr Cardona told Community Care Review outside the conference.
“We often tell consumers that under CDC they can search for the best services. But in order to do this they need to be able to have information about outcomes and to be able to compare services.
“So we need a tool that can implemented at a national level that can give us the kind of information that organisations can use to compare apples with apples.”
The ACCOM test uses two measures to assess incomes – a consumer questionnaire and one for managers, which are then combined to improve the care planning and review process.
It assesses quality of life indicators including sleep, requirements for help, dignity, cleanliness and presentation, food, safety, social connection and accommodation.
Dr Cardon said the new market-driven regime fostered by the move to CDC demanded better assessment tools.
“We have introduced consumer directed care and this is all about choice and control, so for the industry it is really important that we are actually delivering that consumer directed care – that choice and independence and control for consumers,” she said.
“Different organisations have different tools and a lot of organisations at the moment are very confused trying to identify what are the best strategies, how do we measure outcomes.
“Organisations are very used to measuring outputs – the number of services they deliver, but … not much experience trying to measure whether those outputs are actually leading to outcomes.
“There is an impetus for organisations to demonstrate in a competitive market that they are delivering the best outcome.”
The current emphasis on wellness and reablement provided another good reason to adopt sound outcome measurements, Dr Cardon said.
“To be able to implement this we need to demonstrate that those activities, those strategies are actually giving results.
“So using an outcome measurement allows us to see whether the programs that organisations are implementing are being effective.”
The health department is understood to be exploring different tools for measuring community care outcomes, including the ACCOM tool, which is already being used by organisations in Brisbane and in Adelaide since the completion of the pilot stage.
Find out more about ACCOM here.