Research round-up

$350,000 in seniors-orientated research grants; the demographic climate change of our time; calls to overhaul end-of-life care; spirituality important for baby boomers.

In this story:

  • $350,000 in seniors-orientated research grants
  • Demographic climate change of our time
  • Calls to overhaul end of life care
  • Spirituality important for baby boomers


$350,000 in seniors-orientated research grants

The role of GPS technology in caring for people in their homes and the benefits of free public transport for seniors are among four projects to receive a share in $350,000 in funding in the 2013 IRT Research Foundation grants round.

The other two grant recipients from a total of 57 applications will investigate the challenges of living with dementia in retirement villages and the training required to deliver effective community care in rural areas, it was announced by community-based seniors living and care provider IRT Group last week.

The foundation, formed by IRT to support research to improve the mind, mobility and lifestyles of older Australians, has invested more than $1 million in research since 2009.

IRT chief executive Nieves Murray said the selection committee faced a difficult task due to the high standard of this year’s applications but that they were confident the recipients would deliver cutting-edge research benefiting seniors across the nation.

The winning projects:

1. Living with Dementia in Retirement Villages, Professor Lynn Chenoweth, UNSW and Alzheimer’s Australia NSW, $78,688

2. Enabling the Community Care Workforce, Professor Jeni Warburton, La Trobe University, Victoria, $49,955

3. Worlds within Worlds, Professor Laurie Buys, Queensland University of Technology, $168,983

4. The Role of Free Public Transport, Dr Helen Feist, the University of Adelaide, $50,000

Demographic climate change of our time

Increasing longevity and an ageing society together represent the demographic climate change of our time, which, without prompt political, social and economic action, risk a loss to our quality of life, according to a new report from think tank Per Capita.

In Still Kicking. Longevity and Ageing: The demographic climate change of our time, author and Per Capita research fellow Emily Millane has argued that delaying an intervention may mean policy measures to rein in the financial impact of ageing need to be done over a shorter period thereby increasing the impact.

Among the findings are that superannuation and the aged pension are not ensuring a comfortable standard of living for Australians living longer life spans, older people are spending too much on their health care, and the aged care sector requires a significant boost to the numbers and capabilities in its workforce.

However, Ms Millane said that despite the snowballing effects of ageing and longevity, we were armed with the policy tools to arrest their detrimental effects.

The paper outlined six areas where policy innovation could lead to new business opportunities, greater prosperity and a higher quality of life for older Australians.

Read the full report (pdf): Still Kicking. Longevity and Ageing: The demographic climate change of our time

Calls to overhaul end-of-life care

An overhaul beginning with education is needed of nationwide end-of-life medical care practices to ensure more Australians experience better deaths, according to a discussion paper launched last week.

Best Practice in End of Life Care contains the recommendations from a panel of medical, ethical and legal experts who debated the effect modern medicine has had on end-of-life care at a one-day forum jointly sponsored by Monash and Melbourne universities.

The paper calls for enhanced end-of-life leadership and education within the medical profession and wider community, improved implementation of advance care planning and directives, and improved policies and governance within the healthcare system.

Head of Monash University’s School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine Professor John McNeil said while therapeutic and technical advances have improved and extended the lives of many Australians, it had resulted in many older people living with more complex disease and gradual decline in quality of life.

“The benefits of improving the system are multiple – extending to patients and families where there will be improved quality of life-before-death, medical teams and carers to alleviate psychological, moral and emotional distress and conflict, and an improved allocation of resources within the health care system more broadly,” Professor McNeil said.

Read the report (pdf): Best Practice in End of Life Care

Spirituality important for baby boomers

Spirituality leads to better physical and mental health and lower anxiety about ageing, according to UnitingCare Ageing research on the baby boomer generation.

The study, which involved a questionnaire and focus groups, also found baby boomers were not necessarily affiliated with religious organisations but still had high levels of spirituality.

UnitingCare Ageing’s director of mission Rev. Peter Pereira said they assumed the next generation entering aged care would have a lower religious population.

However, the finding that baby boomers had high spirituality was not previously identified and would now play a strong role in planning for future aged care services, he said.

Pastoral care for all that reaches beyond the traditional church service to care of the spirit and encourage spiritual growth, was one of the major themes arising from the focus groups, according to the findings.

And pastoral techniques such as meditation, someone to listen to their life story and engaging in spiritual reminiscence rated highly for all in addition to bible study, prayer and other religious engagement for those who were religious.

Age-related life changing events and baby boomer health and spirituality, Baby boomers need heart and soul in aged care was carried out by The Centre for Ageing and Pastoral Studies at Charles Sturt University and the Australian National University.


Tags: centre-for-ageing-and-pastoral-studies, end-of-life-care, irt-research-foundation, per-capita-think-tank,

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