This year’s funding pool, amounting to more than $600,000, will be shared among five research projects across a range of disciplines.
IRT Chief Executive, Nieves Murray, said the projects were selected for their potential to provide the greatest positive impact on the greatest number of senior Australians in terms of their minds, mobility and lifestyle within a relatively short timeÂÂframe.
“Each of these projects is likely to improve seniors’ quality of life through the research they are conducting and it’s going to be pretty exciting to see the outcomes,” Ms Murray said.
Ms Murray, said the not-Âfor–Âprofit corporation had a mandate to reinvest a proportion of operating profits into worthwhile research projects. Since its establishment in 2009, the IRT Research Foundation has committed over $1M through grants to Australian researchers.
IRT’s Head of Research & Advocacy, Barbara Squires, said there was a focus on translational research in this year’s grants.
“This year’s grant applicants were asked to explain how their project’s findings could be translated into practice – we want to see the results actually benefitting as many older Australians as possible,” said Ms Squires.
“For example we are funding a project at Sydney’s University of Technology (UTS) that will look at robots in a care setting and IRT residents will trial and give feedback on robotic devices. This project takes the outcomes of 10 years of research by UTS into aged care practice. We get to see the benefits as they happen,” she said.
The successful projects are:
1. The Dancing Mind
Professor Dafna Merom, University of Western Sydney
This project builds on earlier work to see whether walking or ballroom dancing is better at maintaining brain function in older adults. Researchers will examine if complex physical activity such as social dancing is an ideal “exercise prescription” for the prevention of cognitive decline.
Co-ÂÂinvestigators: Professor Kaarin Anstey, Dr Ranmalee Eramudugolla, Dr Anne Grunseit
Project duration: 2 years
2. Implementation of Design for Dementia
Professor Richard Fleming, University of Wollongong
While a great deal of information is available to assist aged care providers to design facilities for people with dementia, this project will evaluate the introduction of a systematic way of using this information in the design process. It is anticipated that implementation of evidence based design principles will result in fewer behavioural problems and increased resident quality of life, with less stress and greater job satisfaction for staff.
Co-Âinvestigator: Dr Lynn Philipson
Project duration: 3 years
3. Translating Assistive Robotic Technology to Aged Care Practice
Professor Gamini Dissanayake, University of Technology Sydney
Intelligent machines using advanced Assistive Robotics (AR) technologies can improve health, function and wellbeing in ageing populations. In an Australian first, a multidisciplinary UTS team, working with IRT residents and carers, will evaluate their AR prototype machines in a residential care setting.
Co-investigators: Professor Lynn Chenoweth, Professor Dikai Liu, Dr Ravindra Ranasinghe
Project duration: 18 months
4. Telehealth remote monitoring for people with multiple chronic conditions
Professor Gill Lewin, Silver Chain and Curtin University, WA
An investigation of the effectiveness of telehealth monitoring for people with multiple chronic illnesses. Using technology to measure daily vital signs, patients will be reviewed remotely by a nurse. Aiming to promote early intervention to detect changes before a patient may require hospitalisation, the study also hopes to empower older individuals to actively manage their chronic illnesses.
Co-Âinvestigators: Joanna Smith, Kristen De Miguel
Project duration: 2 years
5. Supporting ageing in ÂÂplace for people with a disability
Professor Trevor Parmenter, University of Sydney
This project looks at the issues affecting successful ageing of people into and with disabilities and how we can prevent premature admissions into residential aged care facilities in both metro and rural settings.
Co-investigators: Dr Marie Knox, Professor Mattew Janicki, Professor Rafat Hussain
Project duration: 1 year