A new $34m national research centre at Flinders University is set to transform aged care.
Flinders University and consultancy firm Wells Advisory will jointly establish the Aged Care Centre for Growth and Translational Research, which Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling says will help develop the capability of Australia's aged care workforce and translate research and innovation into best practice.
The $34 million-dollar, three-year initiative will develop innovative new products and services and is supported by the Australian Government, bolstered by significant in-kind contributions from supporting partners.
"Dementia, restorative care and rehabilitation, mental wellbeing, and social isolation have all been identified as priority areas for the Centre in its first year" Professor Stirling said.
Collaborative partners include consumer advocacy and representative groups, aged care service providers, research organisations, translation and commercial partners, social enterprise organisations, peak bodies, workforce development organisations and the South Australian Government.
"It's carefully considered, it's comprehensive, and crucially, it will ensure the voices and needs of older people and their families are central, and are heard," Professor Stirling said.
In addition to employing 30 staff and delivering 600 internships for aged care workers the Centre will fund around 60 translational research grants to improve aged care.
The establishment of the Centre is in response to Australia's Aged Care Workforce Strategy and supported by the Australian Government's response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.
The Centre represented a "once in a generation opportunity" to transform the way Australia supports its ageing society, said Professor Sue Gordon, Professor of Healthy Ageing.
"Societies are judged on how they look after the least capable members in their community, and we thank the federal government for acknowledging the strategic importance of a capable workforce providing evidenced care and look forward to applying our wealth of expertise to enable transformational reforms through translation of research to practice which achieves sector wide improvements."
By taking on this considerable and privileged task, we will harness our own research expertise and engage researchers from across Australia to effectively address national aged care challenges with real and meaningful change - because we can't afford to leave behind the Australians who got us to where we are today," said Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Robert Saint.
Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia has welcomed the new centre describing it as an "exciting development".
"Bringing older Australians, the aged care industry and the country's brightest researchers together to look at ways to improve service delivery for older Australians is incredibly exciting and long overdue," said chief executive, Ian Yates.