SAHMRI keeps track of SA's senior citizens

05 Oct 2018
SAHMRI keeps track of SA's senior citizens

Every South Australian in aged care is being monitored by the new Registry of Older South Australians at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI). The Registry, or ROSA for short, captures people when they first encounter the Aged Care Assessment Team. 

Registry Director, Associate Professor Maria Inacio, says her team is identifying best practice and sorting the good from the bad when it comes to models of aged care. “Just as a nurse takes care of you in a hospital, they are monitoring you, they're keeping tabs on you to make sure there are processes in place to help you so that hopefully you'll have the best outcome,” she says. “That's the idea of the registry, that we identify things that are going to help improve the process for people.” 

South Australia has the nation’s highest proportion of residents over 85 years old (2.6 per cent) and the second highest proportion of residents over 65 (17.7 per cent) in the country. This is projected to increase by 12-20 per cent by 2027. The aged care sector is already a $16 billion industry, with the Australian Government subsidising a significant portion of the costs. Concerns about the aged care system, which includes home support, home care packages, and residential care, have prompted the Federal Government to announce a royal commission into the sector. 

While many of the anecdotal stories are “heartbreaking”, Dr Inacio says it is good that more people are talking about problems with the system and bringing issues to the forefront. But a full, big-picture evaluation is needed. That’s why SAHMRI researchers have also created a historical nationwide registry (Historical ROSA) of completely de-identified data from all Australians who were assessed for and/or received government-subsidised aged care services from 1997-2016. It’s an incredibly valuable data set of three million people that is already yielding significant findings, Dr Inacio says. “We found people who access aged care services have a two-to-four-times risk of premature mortality than comparable cohorts of older people living in the community,” she says. “It highlights how vulnerable these people are.” 

Other findings on dementia prevalence and the effect of long wait times for home care packages are also being prepared for publication. Dianne Neale, 63, of Ardrossan is a member of the registry’s consumer advisory group. “I think that's a really good idea,” she says. “It’s good to have the data.”

This story was reproduced with permission from The Advertiser.