Designing clinical indicators for common residential aged care conditions and processes of care: the CareTrack Aged development and validation study

Int J Qual Health Care. 2022 May 9;34(2):mzac033. doi: 10.1093/intqhc/mzac033.


Background: People who live in aged care homes have high rates of illness and frailty. Providing evidence-based care to this population is vital to ensure the highest possible quality of life.

Objective: In this study (CareTrack Aged, CT Aged), we aimed to develop a comprehensive set of clinical indicators for guideline-adherent, appropriate care of commonly managed conditions and processes in aged care.

Methods: Indicators were formulated from recommendations found through systematic searches of Australian and international clinical practice guidelines (CPGs). Experts reviewed the indicators using a multiround modified Delphi process to develop a consensus on what constitutes appropriate care.

Results: From 139 CPGs, 5609 recommendations were used to draft 630 indicators. Clinical experts (n = 41) reviewed the indicators over two rounds. A final set of 236 indicators resulted, mapped to 16 conditions and processes of care. The conditions and processes were admission assessment; bladder and bowel problems; cognitive impairment; depression; dysphagia and aspiration; end of life/palliative care; hearing and vision; infection; medication; mobility and falls; nutrition and hydration; oral and dental care; pain; restraint use; skin integrity and sleep.

Conclusions: The suite of CT Aged clinical indicators can be used for research and assessment of the quality of care in individual facilities and across organizations to guide improvement and to supplement regulation or accreditation of the aged care sector. They are a step forward for Australian and international aged care sectors, helping to improve transparency so that the level of care delivered to aged care consumers can be rigorously monitored and continuously improved.

Keywords: aged care; clinical practice guidelines; indicators; quality of care.

MeSH terms

  • Accreditation
  • Aged
  • Australia
  • Consensus
  • Homes for the Aged*
  • Humans
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care
  • Quality of Life*