Understanding trauma

Victorian researchers are investigaing the special needs of aged care clients who have experienced mass trauma.

Australian aged care survivors will have to meet the needs of growing numbers of older survivors of genocide and mass trauma in coming decades, says a Victorian researcher.

Government figures show that seventy per cent of people entering Australia under humanitarian programs in the last two decades have experienced torture and trauma and this will be an area of ongoing concern for aged care providers, according to Karen Teshuva from La Trobe University.

Ms Teshuva is currently leading a study on survivors of the Jewish Holocaust and the Cambodian genocide to provide insight into the special needs of older people who have experienced severe trauma.

The two-year project, which began in January, is being carried out by the University’s Australian Institute for Primary Care in conjunction with Jewish Care.

The research will be based on 45 indepth-interviews with trauma survivors along with online surveys and qualitative interviews with community and residential aged care managers.

“Next year, we are going to analyse all the data and then use it to develop a specialised training program for people working in aged care,” said Ms Teshuva.

“This will help the aged care sector to become more responsive to the needs of refugee communities in Victoria and ensure the dignity and comfort of their older people.”

The follows on from a pilot project on trauma survivors conducted by Ms Teshuva three years ago.

The preliminary research revealed that it is important to understand broader historical events and the uniqueness of each survivor’s experience to provide compassionate care.

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