Mike Woods is a Professor of Health Economics at the Centre for Health Economics Research and Evaluation (CHERE) at the University of Technology Sydney, and former Deputy Chairman of the Productivity Commission and Presiding Commissioner on over 20 national Inquiries. Mike’s research focus is on the reform of aged care and palliative care, improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the health workforce and the economics and financing of health systems. He specialises in policy development and program evaluations.

It is an understatement to say that Mike understands the complex environments in which decisions are made that affects peoples' wellbeing as they interact with social support systems, and we were very happy to speak with him about his use of the Index of Wellbeing for Older Australians.

"Without information showing the broader context of the needs of the population, there's a real risk of getting buried in the details of how a particular program functions and not on the experiences of people within their local context. This is where I see the Index of Wellbeing for Older Australians as having a lot of value."

Mike was contracted by the Commonwealth Department of Health to undertake a review of the delivery of aged care services in rural and remote areas, through 162 multipurpose services located in small communities across the country.

"For this review, we needed to understand the needs of the population in these locations. The Index of Wellbeing for Older Australians provided sound insight into who are the older Australians requiring services, where they reside and their particular circumstances and needs. The multiple layers of data available in the Index create an important context in undertaking policy and program reviews on specific issues. This includes the relationships that any one government intervention should have alongside other services in those regions, including those that address disability, mental health and other support needs.

"From an individual’s perspective, what's important is what services and support are available to them, not what just the program’s own perspectives. That's an important aspect that the Index allowed us to take into this review."