Above: Associate Professor Christopher J. Poulos

By Stephen Easton

In a significant step towards the advancement of the positive ageing model of care, the University of New South Wales has appointed Associate Professor Christopher Poulos as the inaugural Hammond Chair of Positive Ageing and Care, commencing in mid-March.

The position, initiated and funded by HammondCare after they received an Innovative Clinical Teaching and Training Grant from the Department of Health and Ageing (DOHA), was created last October within the UNSW School of Public Health and Community Medicine.  

It is the centrepiece of the newly-built Clinical Training Centre, a novel facility also funded by DOHA and located at HammondCare’s Hammondville campus in south-west Sydney, where medical, nursing and allied health students will undertake clinical training placements.

Professor Poulos said the facility would provide students with important experience, not widely available, of providing health services in the community as well as in residential and sub-acute hospital care settings.

“The focus on training is still very much on the acute hospitals; on illness and disease,” he said. “Looking at positive ageing has a lot of benefits in not only keeping people well, but also improving their quality of life and maintaining their independence as long as possible.”

“One of the big features of the centre is that students will experience life in the community, residential care and sub-acute hospitals. We’ll actually be training young people to deliver care where the bulk of the people who need services are living.”

Poulos in an expert in rehabilitation and restorative care, which he said is about empowering people to help them achieve their goals.

“Often rehabilitation is seen in the context of someone who’s had an acute illness like a stroke or an injury, but the principals of restorative care can really be applied to people in aged care, and helping them live better as they age.”

“The wellness model is about empowering people, as well as teamwork between medical staff, nurses and allied health professionals. It’s one of my passions to see people as active and independent as they can be.”

As well as clinical care, Poulos will also be responsible for research and the development of positive ageing models that can be applied across the spectrum of care, according to Hammond Care’s Chief Medical Officer, Associate Professor Andrew Cole.

Professor Cole is also a conjoint professor in the School of Public Health and Community Medicine (previously the School of Community Medicine), a post he has held since 1986.

“Research into models of care anchors the research into the practical aspects of what you’re doing when you care for people,” Professor Cole said. “We’re not saying that this approach is only for people who are living in their own home on a quarter-acre block in the suburbs; you can also apply it to people living in residential care, sub-acute hospitals or even in high level care.”

“In many, many cases it is possible to do something to give them more independence and the ability to do something more with their lives.”  

“People are not designed to sit around and do nothing, we’re designed to run around and do things, to think, talk and interact. All this is about maintaining what our bodies and our minds are designed to do.”

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