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1.  Organisational Culture in Residential Aged Care Facilities: A Cross-Sectional Observational Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58002.
Organisational culture is increasingly recognised as important for provision of high-quality long-term care. We undertook this study to measure organisational culture in residential aged care facilities in two Australian states.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Cross-sectional observational study in 21 residential aged care facilities in Western Australia (n = 14) and Queensland (n = 7), Australia. Staff and next-of-kin of residents participated. Measurement comprised surveys of facility staff and residents' next-of-kin, and structured observation of indicators of care quality. Staff tended to rate organisational culture positively. Some qualitative feedback from staff emphasised negative perceptions of communication, leadership and teamwork. Staffing levels were perceived as a dominant challenge, threatening care quality. Direct observation revealed variability within and between facilities but suggested that most facilities (n = 12) were in the typical range, or were quality facilities (n = 8).
There was scope to strengthen organisational culture in participating aged care facilities.
PMCID: PMC3591446  PMID: 23505450
2.  Developing and testing a strategy to enhance a palliative approach and care continuity for people who have dementia: study overview and protocol 
BMC Palliative Care  2012;11:4.
Typically, dementia involves progressive cognitive and functional deterioration, leading to death. A palliative approach recognizes the inevitable health decline, focusing on quality of life. The approach is holistic, proactive, supports the client and the family, and can be provided by the client's usual care team.
In the last months of life, distressing symptoms, support needs, and care transitions may escalate. This project trialed a strategy intended to support a consistent, high quality, palliative approach for people with dementia drawing close to death. The strategy was to implement two communities of practice, drawn primarily from service provider organizations across care sectors, supporting them to address practice change. Communities comprised practitioners and other health professionals with a passionate commitment to dementia palliative care and the capacity to drive practice enhancement within partnering organizations.
Project aims were to document: (i) changes driven by the communities of practice; (ii) changes in staff/practitioner characteristics during the study (knowledge of a palliative approach and dementia; confidence delivering palliative care; views on death and dying, palliative care, and a palliative approach for dementia); (iii) outcomes from perspectives of family carers, care providers, and community of practice members; (iv) the extent to which changes enhanced practice and care continuity; and (v) barriers to and facilitators of successful community of practice implementation.
This action research project was implemented over 14 months in 2010/11 in metropolitan Perth, Western Australia and regional Launceston, Tasmania. Each state based community of practice worked with the researchers to scope existing practice and its outcomes. The research team compiled a report of existing practice recommendations and resources. Findings of these two steps informed community of practice action plans and development of additional resources. Change implementation was recorded and explored in interviews, comparisons being made with practice recommendations. Changes in staff/practitioner characteristics were evaluated using survey data. Findings from semi structured interviews and survey administration established outcomes from perspectives of family carers, care providers, and community of practice members. Consideration of processes and outcomes, across the two state based settings, informed identification of barriers and facilitators. Community of practice reflections also informed study recommendations.
PMCID: PMC3394215  PMID: 22471327
Dementia; Palliative care; Evidence translation; Action research
3.  Factors Associated with Self and Informant Ratings of the Quality of Life of People with Dementia Living in Care Facilities: A Cross Sectional Study 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(12):e15621.
There is no consensus regarding the optimal approach to assessment of the quality of life of people with dementia. We undertook the present study to describe and determine the factors associated with ratings of the quality of life of a cohort of people with dementia living in a residential care facility.
Methodology/Principal Findings
351 people with dementia living in residential care facilities, and their staff and family informants participated in this cross sectional observational study. Quality of life was measured using self (Quality of Life in Alzheimer's Disease [QoL-AD] scale), and informant (QoL-AD and Alzheimer's Disease Related QoL Scale) reports. 226 people (64%) with dementia (median MMSE 17; 12–21) were able to self rate the QoL-AD scale and these subjects' ratings were compared to ratings by staff and family. Both staff and family informant ratings of the QoL-AD underestimated self ratings (mean difference −7.8, 95% CI −8.8, −6.7 for staff rated QoL-AD; and mean difference −7.2, 95% CI −8.5, −6.0 for family rated QoL-AD). Self ratings of QoL were lower among people who were restrained, had fallen or had pain. Informant ratings of the QoL of the participants with dementia were consistently and significantly lower for people with severe cognitive impairment, who had fallen, had presence of neuropsychiatric symptoms, or where care giver distress was present. Documented restraint, reported pain and neuropsychiatric symptoms were independently associated with lower self rating of the QoL-AD in multivariate models. Cognitive impairment, case conferencing, hospitalizations and neuropsychiatric symptoms were found to be independently associated with staff rated ADRQL.
The majority of people with dementia living in residential care facilities can rate their own QoL. Informant ratings underestimate self ratings of QoL of people with dementia, and appear to be associated with factors which are not associated with self ratings.
PMCID: PMC3001486  PMID: 21179448
4.  Dementia in residential care: education intervention trial (DIRECT); protocol for a randomised controlled trial 
Trials  2010;11:63.
There is scope to improve the quality of life (QOL) of people with dementia living in residential care facilities (RCF). The DIRECT study will determine if delivery of education to General Practitioners (GPs) and care staff improves the quality of life of residential care recipients with cognitive impairment.
A prospective randomised controlled trial conduced in residential aged care facilities in the metropolitan area of Perth, Western Australia. Participants are care facility residents, aged 65 years and older and with mini-mental state examination scores less than 25. GPs and care facility staff have been independently randomised to intervention or control groups. An education programme, designed to meet the perceived needs of learners, will be delivered to GPs and care staff in the intervention groups. The primary outcome of the study will be quality of life of the people with dementia, measured using the QOL-Alzheimer's Disease Scale (QOL-AD) and Alzheimer Disease Related QOL Scale (ADRQL), 4 weeks and 6 months after the conclusion of the education intervention.
Recruitment of 351 people with dementia, cared for by staff in 39 residential facilities and 55 GPs, was undertaken between May 2007 and July 2008. Collection of baseline data is complete. Education has been delivered to GPs and Care staff between September 2008 and July 2009. Follow- up data collection is underway.
The study results will have tangible implications for proprietors, managers and staff from the residential care sector and policy makers. The results have potential to directly benefit the quality of life of both patients and carers.
Trial registration
These trial methods have been prospectively registered (ACTRN12607000417482).
PMCID: PMC2887857  PMID: 20500891
5.  Current experiences and educational preferences of general practitioners and staff caring for people with dementia living in residential facilities 
BMC Geriatrics  2009;9:36.
Residential care is important for older adults, particularly for those with advanced dementia and their families. Education interventions that achieve sustainable improvement in the care of older adults are critical to quality care. There are few systematic data available regarding the educational needs of Residential Care Facility (RCF) staff and General Practitioners (GPs) relating to dementia, or the sustainability of educational interventions. We sought to determine participation in dementia education, perceived levels of current knowledge regarding dementia, perceived unmet educational needs, current barriers, facilitators and preferences for dementia education.
A mixed methods study design was utilised. A survey was distributed to a convenience sample of general practitioners, and staff in 223 consecutive residential care facilities in Perth, Western Australia. Responses were received from 102 RCF staff working in 10 facilities (out of 33 facilities who agreed to distribute the survey) and 202 GPs (19% of metropolitan GPs). Quantitative survey data were summarised descriptively and chi squared statistics were used to analyse the distribution of categorical variables. Qualitative data were collected from general practitioners, staff in residential care facilities and family carers of people with dementia utilizing individual interviews, surveys and focus groups. Qualitative data were analysed thematically.
Among RCF staff and GPs attending RCF, participation in dementia education was high, and knowledge levels generally perceived as good. The individual experiences and needs of people with dementia and their families were emphasised. Participants identified the need for a person centred philosophy to underpin educational interventions. Limited time was a frequently mentioned barrier, especially in relation to attending dementia care education. Perceived educational needs relating to behaviours of concern, communication, knowledge regarding dementia, aspects of person centred care, system factors and the multidisciplinary team were consistently and frequently cited. Small group education which is flexible, individualized, practical and case based was sought.
The effectiveness and sustainability of an educational intervention based on these findings needs to be tested. In addition, future interventions should focus on supporting cultural change to facilitate sustainable improvements in care.
PMCID: PMC2733895  PMID: 19674462

Results 1-5 (5)