Research to boost communication in aged care

13 Oct 2022

Communicating the needs of people living in aged care is the focus of a University of Queensland project awarded over $2 million in funding from the Medical Research Future Fund.

Lead researcher Dr Sarah Wallace from UQ’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences said older Australians with a communication disability can struggle to make their needs and concerns known.

“This funding means a lot to me,” Dr Wallace said.

“More than 400,000 older Australians require support with communication difficulties, which are among the most common and devasting symptoms of ageing.

“Communication is how we express our feelings and ideas, and it’s also how we form and maintain social connections.

“Many older Australians who receive aged care services have difficulty communicating yet care workers do not have the skills or resources to help them express their needs, choices, or concerns.

“Being unable to communicate can greatly impact on quality of life, and this research will aim to develop resources to ensure people utilising aged care services can access their basic right to be heard and understood.”

In phase one researchers will work with aged care providers, residents, workers and health professionals to develop a toolkit to support better conversations about aged care. 

This will include; a tool for describing the communication needs of older people utilising aged care services, web-based communication training for aged care workers, picture-based simple-English resources to support conversations about care, and guidelines to support ‘communication friendly’ care planning, feedback and complaint resolution.

The project is collaborating with a large list of partners including; the Australian Government Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, Wesley Mission Queensland, Southern Cross Care Queensland, the Older Person’s Advocacy Network, Dementia Australia, the Ethnic Communities Council of Queensland, Speech Pathology Australia, Audiology Australia and Southern Queensland Rural Health.

Another UQ project has also received $1.3 million in funding through this MRFF Dementia, Ageing and Aged Care Mission Outcomes grant round.

Dr Theresa Scott from UQ’s School of Psychology is leading the project titled: Navigating Fitness to Drive with Patients with Dementia in Primary Care: Delivering an Innovative Online Driver Safety Assessment and Management Package to Practitioners.

Media: Dr Sarah Wallace; UQ Communications, Bridget Druery,, +61 (0)435 221 246.