UC launches ageing research centre   

The Centre for Ageing Research and Translation’s projects focus on dementia, innovative care models and workforce.

The University of Canberra has opened a research and translation centre to improve the health and aged care services available to older people through projects focused on dementia, innovative care models and workforce. 

The multi-disciplinary Centre for Ageing Research and Translation – which held a launch event at UC on Thursday – is led by ageing and aged care researcher Distinguished Professor Diane Gibson. 

“It’s a privilege to lead a dedicated team of researchers whose expertise across a range of nursing, allied health and social science disciplines is enhanced by a shared passion to advocate for respect and recognition of older people,” said Professor Gibson. 

CARAT is the culmination of work of the university’s Ageing Research Group, with theme leaders Professor Kasia Bail, Professor Stephen Isbel and Dr Nathan D’Cunha respectively heading CARAT’s workforce, innovative models of care, and dementia and cognition projects. 

“We’re a group of multidisciplinary teaching academics and researchers with a focus on research, translation to policy and practice, and advocacy,” Professor Bail told Australian Ageing Agenda. “From nurses and occupational therapists to computer scientists and policy analysts we are motivated by amplifying high-quality practices that benefit older people’s wellbeing.” 

Professor Kasia Bail

In addition to being actively engaged at the coalface to integrate practice and research, CARAT team members are embedded in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching, which means they can integrate current and developing knowledge into the next generation of the health workforce, she said.  

“We are particularly interested in filling gaps we can see, such as post-diagnostic care for people with dementia, and the capacity building of the gerontological workforce – like nurses and allied health – needed to meet the needs of the ageing population.” 

CARAT research is collaborative and often utilises a co-design approach, including people with dementia, carers, consumer advocates, industry partners, clinicians, entrepreneurs, and governments, Professor Bail said.  

“We are dedicated to making a difference in and with our community. And thanks to many amazing partnerships and teams, we have already achieved fantastic positive changes for older people including better enabling dementia-friendly communities, nudging clinical practices towards evidence-informed care, improving access to high-quality non-pharmacological interventions and mobilising existing workforces towards gerontological specialisation.” 

Associate Professors Jane Kellett, Helen Southwood, Ash Smyth and Dr Ananthan Ambikairajah round out the core members of the CARAT team. 

Together the team’s research spans epidemiology, nursing, economics, social science, public health, policy analysis, dietetics, food and human nutrition, physiotherapy, pharmacy, occupational therapy, speech pathology, optometry, psychology, and exercise science. 

Professor Gibson said older people deserved healthcare and, where needed, home-based or residential aged care that supported them to continue living full, meaningful and rewarding lives in their community. 

“This is achievable when we have a highly skilled workforce of health professionals who recognise the value of older people in our society and the importance of empowering them to live their best possible lives and continue to participate and contribute to the level they desire.” 

Main image: Members of the CARAT team (L to R:) Dr Nathan D’Cunha, Associate Professor Ash Smyth, Distinguished Professor Diane Gibson, Professor Stephen Isbel, Dr Ananthan Ambikairajah and Professor Kasia Bail

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Tags: CARAT, Centre for Ageing Research and Translation, diane gibson, Kasia Bail,

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