Leading Change with Action Research: Improving Quality of Life in Residential Aged Care

Wednesday, 24 July 2013: 8:50 AM

Wendy Penney, RN, MN, PhD1
Lisa M. Clinnick, RN, BN, GdDpGrN, MClN, FACN2
Louise A. Martin, RN, BA, AD (nursing), MHS2
(1)School of Health Sciences, University of Ballarat, Ballarat, Australia
(2)Nursing, Hepburn Health Service, Daylesford, Australia

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to understand how to improve quality of life for residents living in residential aged care.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to understand how to conduct an action research project to facilitate change in a health care setting.


This research developed collaboratively between a regional university in Victoria, Australia and a local rural health service with the goal of improving quality of life for older people living in three residential aged care homes.  The aim was to provide health care staff (managers, registered nurses,  patient care attendants) with an opportunity to participate in facilitated workshops designed to assist them to develop ways to improve quality of life for residents.


An action research methodology was adopted as this approach supports group activity founded on a partnership between researcher and participants, all of whom are involved in the change process.  The participatory process is educational and empowering, involving a dynamic approach where problem identification, planning, action and evaluation are interlinked.  In addition to participating in three workshops, participants consented to be involved in pre and post individual interviews to support the evaluation process.  


Thirty health professionals participated in this project.  Data indicates participants had an overwhelming desire to deliver a person centred care approach, which included developing stronger relationships with residents.  A number of factors were identified in the workshops and interviews as barriers.  These barriers included perceived time constraints, task orientated care delivery, staff attitudes towards a relationship centred approach and the institutionalised culture of the facilities.  However, this lead to a wide range of actions to improve quality of life for residents, including challenging task orientated ways of practice.


We identified ways to change traditional ways of care through involving those responsible for providing care in the process.  This method can be used to make a difference in a range of health settings due to its participatory, educational and innovative approach.