Evaluation of Better Health Care Connections
Department of Social Services
Duration: June 2013 - June 2015
Download the final report
Masso M, Samsa P, Fildes D, Duncan C (2015) Evaluation of the Better Health Care Connections: Models for Short Term, More Intensive Health Care for Aged Care Recipients Program. Final report. Centre for Health Service Development, Australian Health Services Research Institute, University of Wollongong.
The Centre for Health Service Development (CHSD) undertook the evaluation of the Better Health Care Connections (BHCC): Models for Short Term, More Intensive Health Care for Aged Care Recipients Program. The BHCC was funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services.
The objectives of the BHCC were to:
- develop innovative models to build better health care connections between existing health and aged care services, that are cost effective and improve the way the aged care system works within the broader health system
- improve access to complex health care services for aged care recipients
- increase awareness and information on successful models amongst aged care and health care service providers
- diversify the aged care sector to include more complex community and residential health care services for aged care recipients.
The BHCC aimed to achieve the following outcomes:
- Cost effective innovative models of health care that demonstrate that aged care recipients have received high quality health care.
- Effective referral pathways between aged care and health care service providers that ensure that aged care recipients have improved access to health care.
- Reduction of unnecessary hospital admissions and shortening of length of hospital stays for aged care recipients.
- Improvement in the quality of health care services provided to aged care recipients.
- Development of a more skilled and flexible aged care sector.
This project consisted of a formative and summative evaluation of the Better Health Care Connections: Models for Short term, More Intensive Health Care for Aged Care Recipients Program. The program provided seed grants to aged care providers to develop new models of health care for aged care recipients as part of the Living Longer Living Better aged care reform package. The models aimed to deliver a more flexible aged care system, responding to the changing needs of Australians and the economic and social challenges of an ageing population. Thirteen projects were funded under the program to a total of $5.4 million, involving both residential and community aged care providers.
What we did
The framework for the evaluation built on the evaluation framework which has been used by the CHSD since 2003, with some modifications to fit the nature of the program. Data sources for the evaluation included the extensive documentation produced by each project, the available literature, site visits, key stakeholder interviews and tools developed specifically for the evaluation. The program (and hence the evaluation of the program) had at its core a question of fundamental importance: how can the connections between health and aged care be improved for the benefit of all concerned – consumers (aged care recipients and their families and carers), the individuals providing care for aged care recipients, and the ‘system’ within which individual providers work.
The final report of the evaluation was delivered in June 2015. In total, 2,374 people benefited from the program, 69% living in residential care and 31% living in the community, with 37% benefiting directly from services funded by the program and 63% benefiting from improved connections between existing services. Over 3,000 aged care employees benefited from access to educational material, either developed by the program or adapted from existing resources. All 13 aged care providers funded under the program developed, in a variety of ways, some form of 'improved connection’ between aged care services and health services.
The major barrier to establishing better health care connections was the existing ‘silos’ of primary care, aged care and acute health services. Interviews with stakeholders identified that building relationships to span the gap produced by these silos is challenging, time consuming and resource intensive and relies heavily on establishing personal relationships based on trust and mutual respect. Due to the high turnover of staff in both aged care and health sectors, these relationships need constant ‘building and maintaining’.