‘Alternative staffing structures in a clustered domestic model of residential aged care in Australia’ examines the differences in staffing structure between the traditional institutional model of aged care and the home like model of aged care, or what is referred to as the clustered model, which is consistently rated highly by consumers.

The study found that the clustered model of care had 33 per cent higher personal care attendant and hours per resident per day, 40 per cent higher staff training costs and used 14 per cent less registered nurses per day than the standard institutional model.

This suggests providers may be able to deliver good quality care using an alternative staffing mix and higher levels of staff training in the home like model. The research team found clustered model was associated with a higher consumer‐rated quality of care, better quality of life, fewer hospitalisations and potentially inappropriate medications, with similar costs of care and higher direct care hours.

The article is based on the broader cross-sectional study, Investigating Services Provided in the Residential Environment for Dementia (INSPIRED) of 17 residential aged care homes from four states in Australia involving 541 residents and four home like, clustered care places.

The study defined the clustered model of care of meeting five of six of these features:

  1. Small scale (maximum 15 residents per living unit)
  2. Residents have independent access to outdoors
  3. Continuity of staff assigned to the living units
  4. Meals cooked within the living units
  5. Self‐service of meals by residents
  6. Residents can assist with meal preparation

(Authors: Stephanie L. Harrison, Suzanne M. dyer, Rachel Milte, Enwu Liu, Emmanuel S. Gnanamanickam and Maria Crotty)