HAPPINESS really does begin at home, according to a new study into residential aged care.
Researchers from Flinders University in South Australia found living in small domestic models of residential aged care can lead to better quality of life and health outcomes.
The team also found that compared with standard care models, hospitalisation and emergency department presentation rates were lower for people living in small-scale clustered living units designed to look and feel more like a home.
Clusters offer access to the outdoors, choice and flexibility when it comes to activities and involvement with domestic duties such as meal preparation.
Researchers compared patient-reported outcomes and resource use for more than 500 residents at 17 facilities in four states.
They found residents of home-like models of care were 52 per cent less likely to be prescribed a potentially inappropriate medication (such as antipsychotics or benzodiazepines). which have been linked to adverse health effects such as falls or strokes in older adults.
The study was conducted by INSPIRED (Investigating Services Provided in the Residential Care Environment for Dementia) with partners including the NHMRC Cognitive Decline Partnership Centre at the University of Sydney.
Aged care providers HammondCare, Helping Hand Australia and Brightwater Care Group also had input, along with Dementia Australia, healthcare organisations and eight universities.
HammondCare chief executive Stephen Judd said the research shows small home-like environments with domestic kitchens and meals being cooked and prepared in situ, and where there is easy access to the outdoors, “deliver a better quality of life as well as less time spent in hospital”.
He said the research also shows home-like models save an estimated $14,000 per person a year.