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New aged care professorship will put new focus on healthy ageing


Healthy ageing will feature more prominently in the research conducted by one of Australia’s top universities and enjoy a higher profile in the aged care sector under a newly announced professorship.

The Susan and Isaac Wakil Professorship of Healthy Ageing at the University of Sydney will focus on improving the health and wellbeing of older people living in residential aged care and in the community.

Sydney Nursing School Professor of Chronic Disease and Ageing Yun-Hee Jeon will take on the new title from next year.

Professor Yun-Hee Jeon

Professor Yun-Hee Jeon

Professor Jeon said the role would allow her more time to enhance her research aimed at improving care of older people in residential aged care and in the community.

“My research involves testing different models of care but also finding best ways to measure outcomes of care,” she told Australian Ageing Agenda.

“My passion is improving quality of care.”

Her priority areas for research will include implementing person-centred care in residential care, the critical role of managers in aged care, measuring quality, and providing reablement support for people with dementia living in the community.

“There is a huge demand from consumers, researcher and clinicians  wanting to make a difference to the lives of people with dementia,” she said.

“We know there are reablement approaches outside Australia targeting people with dementia that have been proven to be effective but we don’t have the models to embed in our health and aged care systems.”

A reablement program for dementia in community has been trialled and a focus of Professor Jeon’s research will be how to test this approach in Australian services, she said.

The professorship has been named in recognition of recent donations totalling $46 million from the Susan and Isaac Wakil Foundation.

In April it donated $35 million to enable construction of the main building of the university’s proposed new health precinct, which will bring multiple health disciplines together to translate research into education and clinical services.

Professor Jeon said it was important to work with other disciplines and her research often involved occupational therapists,  psychologists, doctors and psycho-geriatricians.

Similarly, good collaborative partnerships with aged care providers and working with sector stakeholders was integral to research, she said.

“It is really important that we as researchers don’t just do the research. To build evidence we need to think about how this evidence can be utilised in everyday life. We can’t afford to stop at the efficacy trial. We have to go beyond,” she said.

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8 Responses to New aged care professorship will put new focus on healthy ageing

  1. Country carer November 30, 2016 at 11:22 am #

    Because we all need more academics telling us how to do our job…

  2. Dave December 1, 2016 at 12:40 am #

    Great news for the academic publication tally, but not for tangible benefits. No matter how clever the research or how innovative the resulting strategies, the best we can expect is a new set of buzz words.

    Sure, a few CEOs might run with a new idea (person centered care and reablement look great in the brochures) but any type of practical implementation will just get dumped on the two unqualified AINs frantically trying to care for 45 people.

    In the aged care sector, the gulf between academia and reality is what ‘quality of care’ actually means. First things first please…we need to have sufficient numbers of well trained staff just to get the basics right. Most people would be happy if we could just do that properly. Get the fundamentals right, otherwise we’re only trying to finesse a train wreck.

    Millions of dollars for the researchers, $19.75/hour to care for their subjects.

  3. Country carer December 1, 2016 at 2:45 pm #

    Agree with you, Dave, misdirection of the funding and not enough where it counts or where it could be most beneficial to our seniors. Philanthropists who want to make a difference need to aim for the coalface!

  4. Janet December 2, 2016 at 8:07 pm #

    I agree, let’s concentrate on recruiting, retaining and retraining aged care workers because they are responsible for person centred care which at it’s heart is effective communication.

  5. Janet December 12, 2016 at 5:30 pm #

    This is wonderful news and Yun-Hee is an inspired choice for the professorship

  6. Caroline December 13, 2016 at 10:52 am #

    We need enquiry at several levels including academic. What would be better is if Sydney Uni and Prof Jeon actually engaged with a diversity of workers (including activity officers or whatever they’re called in RACFs) to understand their perspectives of the implementation of healthy ageing. Healthy ageing in a RACF appears to be a contradiction so why not focus on improving people’s understanding of healthy ageing. Community education over models of healthy ageing appears to be one answer. Perceptions of healthy ageing differ across and within communities and differs widely across generations and people with different chances in life. OK so focus om improving healthy ageing when you’re in a RACF but hey, that person has had few chances of actually focusing on their health prior to an RACF because they had fewer opportunities to do focus on themselves. My view.. change attitude in community!

  7. Drew Dwyer January 25, 2017 at 12:09 pm #

    Congratulations Yun-Hee, I have enjoyed your publications and hope that this new role transforms into change on the frontline of care.

  8. Michael Eastman January 31, 2017 at 10:37 am #

    Enough research! Those of us on the floor already know how to measure the quality of care and how to provide it.

    Well trained, fairly remunerated care staff; and plenty of them.

    Problem solved.

    Now, can we have that research money back please? We need it to pay for the extra nursing staff.

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