The Australian Aged Care Quality Agency engaged Hamilton Stone to assist it in producing consumer resources to support the implementation of new Aged Care Quality Standards. The standards are for all aged care services, including residential care, home care packages, flexible care and services under the Commonwealth Home Support Program.
What we did for the Quality Agency
Hamilton Stone developed information resources for aged care consumers, based on consultation with consumers themselves.
Our directors have extensive stakeholder engagement experience, which we complemented with a literature review on engaging with older people, designing an engagement plan. We undertook consultation with National Aged Care Alliance members, and visited sites across the country, talking to people aged between 50 and 100, about the services they used. We took a ‘diversity first’ approach to consultations, ensuring we reached different people in disparate circumstances, including: elders who were socially or economically isolated, living with dementia, members of culturally and linguistically diverse communities, Aboriginal Australians, LGBTI people, people with disability and people in regional areas.
Our consultations were with hard-to-reach populations and built on strong trust relationships. We worked with sixteen different community organisations and, where needed, with translators. Invitations to participate were distributed in different formats, such as print, email and video. We undertook consultations across most states and territories, using a mix individual interviews, small group discussions and structured workshops.
Our company developed a report for the Quality Agency on the first phase of the project, and the findings we detailed were the subject of an article in the Aged Care Guide. The most interesting findings in our early consultations were highlighted by Quality Agency CEO Nick Ryan:
“What is more surprising to us so far is the extent to which consumers value having someone standing beside them when they are dealing with information and decisions about aged care, the specificity of consumer information needs related to their particular aged care journey, and differences between consumer’s experience and language of quality that is often used by experts to describe ‘quality’.”
These insights shaped the recommended information resources, which we tested with consumers, and which are being taken up by the Agency as it moves toward full implementation of the new standards.