University of Queensland 2020 Update

UG 2020 Update

The past year has been challenging, primarily because of COVID-19 disruption. Several of our projects have been delayed, and new opportunities for funding have been somewhat curtailed. Nonetheless, we have a achieved a great deal, and the future for both our research and educational endeavours is promising.

I referred to the Royal Commission into Quality and Safety in Aged Care in my last report. The Board may be aware the Commission has been extended and now will report in 2021. I have given evidence to the Commission’s hearings, primarily in relation to the delivery of health care into aged care facilities, to telehealth utilisation and opportunities, and to quality measurement.

Our team (led by Associate Professor Tracy Comans, our senior health economist) was contracted by the Commission to conduct an analysis of the relationships between price, efficiency and quality of care. This work was completed recently and may be released as a report of the Commission shortly. The findings will be controversial and will likely influence thinking about future funding of the industry.

My work with the Medical Research Futures Fund as co-chair of the “Mission” on Dementia, Ageing and Aged Care (to which I also referred last year) has proceeded well, and has set the agenda for the $185m investment in research in these fields for the next 10 years. There is likely to be an emphasis on care delivery and quality issues within the program of work.

Some of the larger scale research projects that we are conducting in Ageing and Geriatric Medicine this year include:

• A project (led by Professor David Paterson and myself) to understand the emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria in aged care facilities, and to trial a strategy to overcome inappropriate antibiotic use is now well developed and should move into field studies in 18 RACFs early next year.

• The project (led by Dr Melinda Martin-Khan) to implement a new nursing system into hospitals across Tasmania was severely disrupted by COVID-19 issues and may not proceed. We remain hopeful. The system remains of interest to many hospitals in Australia, New Zealand and beyond, and I expect its use will accelerate once the COVID issue is controlled.

. Annual Review 2020 Page 6 • In partnership with Price Waterhouse Coopers, we recently completed a large project to develop quality indicators for care of people in aged care facilities. We have recommended 7 new measures (related to pressure injuries, falls, medication use, nutrition, etc) to the Department and we await their response.

• We are conducting an important project for the Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre (and the Department of Health) to standardise information collected in regard to aged care residents’ care needs (e.g., how a person walks, or whether they are depressed) and developing systems to enable sharing of this information among service providers. Ultimately this will enable performance of facilities to be better understood, leading to an ability to compare across organisations. This, in turn, will enable organisations to make improvements and will give the public an opportunity to make informed choices when they require care.

• The national project to appraise care quality in 150 RACFs across 4 states (led by Macquarie University) has been delayed due to COVID-19.

• A project (led by Professor Ruth Hubbard) to examine the value of comprehensive geriatric assessment to assist older patients with advancing renal failure to set goals and make important treatment decisions will commence field work in 2021.

As I indicated at our most recent meeting, the Dean has set in train a process to appoint a new Chair in Geriatric Medicine. This should conclude in the next few weeks, and I expect to step down from the position in about October. I will continue in my role as Director of the Centre for Health Services Research for at least another year. One of my tasks in that role will be to assist the new Chair in Geriatric Medicine to establish a strong research and educational program for the next generation. I will reflect further on this matter once the new arrangements are in place. I will ensure that the Board is informed of events as they occur.