Empowering aged care workers with new model of care

Ongoing reform and increasing operational needs are creating huge workforce pressures in aged care, yet finding time and resourcing for research and innovation that could produce solutions is a challenge itself for busy organisations.

With ARIIA’s support, St Basil’s Homes in South Australia was able to partner with two researchers to access funding and expertise to boost their innovation capacity and build internal expertise for their future model of care project.

CEO Michelle Church, and her team at St Basil’s Homes had identified before the pandemic that a re-organisation of clinical and non-clinical tasks could lead to improvement in holistic care, and Covid had reinforced that they needed to rethink their organisational structure.

Michelle said that the goal became to move to a more homelike model of care for residents.

“To achieve this, we started on the journey of challenging what had always been done and by whom,” she said.

“We knew we needed to create new roles for staff, and offer better career progression opportunities, but of course it’s equally important to maintain excellent clinical governance and safe quality care principles.”

With a grand vision to design a new staff role matrix and IT platform, St Basil’s Homes sought the help of ARIIA’s Aged Care Partnering Program who matched them with researchers Dr Katrina Radford and Dr Ellie Meissner of Griffith University.

Michelle sees the extra resourcing and expertise the researchers bring as invaluable to co-designing a sustainable, evidence-based matrix.

“The research team have been flexible and sensitive to the needs of residents, families and staff and we’ve all learned so much in the process”, she said

“We have staff and residents who may never have participated in research before, who were able to have their voices heard and make a real difference to our future model of care.”

Funded by an ARIIA grant, Katrina, Ellie, and their research team have become the eyes, ears and willing hands of the project. They clocked up more than 90 hours shadowing St Basil’s Homes staff to deeply understand their hour-to-hour tasks, facilitating ‘world café’ style consultations, and conducting over 30 interviews at St Basil’s three homes.

Whether being onsite at 2.00 am to hear from the night shift, or ensuring a Greek interpreter is available for residents and families, Ellie and Katrina refer to themselves as “pracademics who bring a theoretical lens to changing practice in an evidence-based way”.

Their extensive academic expertise in organisational psychology and aged care human resource management is balanced with deep experience and hands-on understanding of the needs of aged care, and a commitment to tangible, translational outcomes from research.


“A key aspect of this project has been the genuine partnership forged with ARIIA’s support, and the Aged Care Partnering Program was phenomenal”, said Ellie.

“They facilitated workshops with St Basil’s Homes to design the project from the ground up, and this has meant a real sense of ownership from participating staff, and research decisions and business decisions sit side-by-side.”

“St Basil’s know they can trust us to bring an ethical framework to every aspect of the project, with all collected data remaining securely with Griffith University, and confidence that anything they share is confidential.”

Michelle added that St Basil’s Homes was eagerly looking forward to finalising the matrix and implementing an IT platform to support it.

We feel that a robust solution has been co-designed with those who will use it, firmly rooted in both insights gathered onsite and evidence from global best-practice.

“With the support of Ellie and Katrina’s team we are realising our vision of creating an engaged workforce that challenges the status quo and improves the quality of service to the residents in our care”.