Evidence in the form of guidelines, reviews and evidence summaries describes what best practice should look like. However, translating that evidence into the day-to-day delivery of aged care is not straightforward. Estimates suggest that evidence-based care is delivered approximately 60 to 70 per cent of the time.
There are many reasons why the evidence-practice gap exists. It could be that people are not aware of the research evidence, do not understand the way it is presented, or they may lack the knowledge, skills, time, and support to apply the evidence to their own practice setting. To tackle these issues, it is important to understand the process of knowledge translation, including what the barriers are and how these can be addressed.
In ARIIA we have described our approach to knowledge translation as a 'process that involves active engagement with a wide range of aged care stakeholders who can inform, influence, and enact the translation of research evidence into aged care policy and practice'. Read more on ARIIA Knowledge Translation principles here. It is important to note that knowledge translation does not just begin when a piece of evidence has been produced. Rather it involves the whole process from identifying a problem, finding an evidence-based solution to the problem, and implementing and evaluating that solution in practice. Throughout this process, engaging with all those who have a role in understanding the problem and finding and testing solutions is important. This is likely to include older people and their family and carers, aged care staff and managers, researchers, and relevant policymakers.
Moving evidence into practice: a case study
Professor Gill Harvey and her team are sharing a case study on four parts that we will be promoting through KnowledgeConnect. Over four editions the case study will demonstrate the practical aspects of using Knowledge Translation approaches. The case study deals with the problem of frail older people who are frequent presenters to hospital, both in the Emergency Department or as a patient in the hospital. About one in five older people who have had a first-time aged care eligibility assessment have an unplanned hospital presentation within the next three months. This is not ideal as hospital admissions are known to expose older people to unwanted risks and can lead to a decline in their condition. It also places additional pressure on hospital services. So, where to begin in tackling this problem?