• A QUT study investigating what specifically keeps people active as they age has attracted more than a million dollars in National Health and Medical Research Council funding.
  • Australia’s health care sector is in desperate need of reform, according to the recently released third volume of the Health Workforce 2025 report.
  • Industry movements: Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council (CS&HISC) has elected two new board members.
  • A new, innovative online brain health study needs you
  • Palliative Care Australia and partners have just released two online consumer resources to help people with diabetes, in recognition of World Diabetes Day yesterday.
  • New research from Swinburne University of Technology has found that daily multivitamin supplement may improve brain efficiency in older women.
  • Conferences on the cards for the next month

One of the world’s largest and most comprehensive studies into the factors that keep people active as they age will share in more than $6.1 million funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

The Queensland University of Technology $1.27 million study, HABITAT (How Areas in Brisbane Influence healTh And acTivity) has been running since 2007 and will now continue to examine life and recreation among people aged 40-65 in Brisbane.

So far, the researchers have sought input from more than 10,000 residents over the past five years.

Study lead and principal research fellow at QUT’s Faculty of Health, Professor Gavin Turrell, said that his team aims to continue to survey these same adults across 200 Brisbane neighbourhoods over the next five years.

This will hopefully gauge the role both active and sedentary behaviour play in preventing declines in physical function and health over time.

Professor Turrell said the million dollar study would also examine how physical activity and sedentary behaviour were influenced by neighbourhood environment as well as socio-demographic, social and psychological factors.

HABITAT was one of 10 Queensland University of Technology (QUT) projects to receive the NHMRC money.

Other QUT recipients of NHMRC funding include a trial into improving postural stability and reducing falls risk in people with Parkinson’s disease using textured insoles; innovations in diabetic foot ulcer (DFU) wound care; preventing recurrence of leg ulcers in older adults with peripheral vascular disease.

Australia’s health sector can not afford to continue with its ‘business-as-usual’ approach as it has done in the past if it is to maintain a sustainable and affordable health workforce in the future, according to the recently released third volume of the Health Workforce 2025 (HW 2025) report.

Psychiatry and radiation oncology are the two fields most at risk of future workforce pressures as there are not enough specialists in these fields currently.

The supply of cardiology, gastroenterology and hepatology, neurology and surgical specialties is adequate at the moment, but projections show there will be more of these specialists coming through the training pipeline than the sector needs.

“The projections contained in HW 2025 show us that unless we start doing things differently,” the report summary states.

“Australia is going to experience continuing health workforce shortages.

“To build a health workforce that is able to meet the health needs of the Australian community in a sustainable way, the next steps will involve seeking national agreement on the actions identified, progressing outcomes through collaboration and consultation and implementing the results across the health and higher education sectors.”

The HW 2025 report has provided Australia with its first major, long-term national projections for the health workforce out to 2025.

HW 2025 Volumes 1 and 2 dealt with doctors, nurses and midwives. HW 2025 Volume 3 examines individual medical specialties in Australia and is the final volume in this series.

The three reports together concluded that Australia’s health care system must be reformed in order to “ensure a sustainable, affordable health workforce for the future”.

“Modeling applied to professions throughout Volumes 1, 2 and 3 clearly shows that service and workforce reforms will have the most significant and positive impact on workforce numbers”.

A ground-breaking new study will aim to measure the commitment of Australians to improving their brain health using online and mobile eHealth programs.

Researchers from The Australian National University and Alzheimer’s Australia will conduct the study and pay particular attention to the lifestyle choices that impact the health of the brain.

The study team has developed a range of eHealth programs that provide incentives for people to make lifestyle changes and live ‘brain healthy lives.

Three different tools will be tested and members of the public are encouraged to take part.

The team is now calling for participants to get involved. The study involves four weeks of regular participation in one eHealth program and three surveys over four months. Volunteers must be over 18; read and write English; have daily access to email and internet; have a smartphone or tablet; and be healthy enough to undertake moderate physical exercise.

To get involved or find out more, visit brainhealthstudy.org.au

Palliative Care Australia and partners have just released two consumer resources to help people with diabetes, their families and carers, understand how to manage the condition while they are receiving palliative care.

The online resources – Diabetes and Palliative Care: Information for people with diabetes and Diabetes and Palliative Care: Information for family members/carers – are available to download now.
The new resources were launched in recognition of World Diabetes Day yesterday, in partnership with Diabetes Australia, Deakin University and Barwon Health.

Diabetes affects a significant proportion of the Australian population. An estimated 280 Australians develop diabetes every day and by 2031, it is estimated that 3.3 million Australians will have type-2 diabetes.

“Deaths from diabetes-related underlying causes are increasing,” said president of Palliative Care Australia, Dr Scott Blackwell.

“Health professionals caring for people at the end of life need to be aware if the person has diabetes so that they can adequately manage their medications and other symptoms.”

Industry movements: Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council (CS&HISC) has elected Rob Bonner as its new chair of the board, and Natalie Hamood as its deputy chair.

Mr Bonner is the manager of industrial and education services for the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (SA Branch) and the Australian Nursing Federation representative on the CS&HISC Board.

He has been a director on the CS&HISC Board for over six years and deputy chair since 2010. Mr Bonner also brings over 20 years of experience in education and health to his new role as chair.

Deputy chair, Natalie Hamood, is the director strategic improvement and safety with the Department for Communities and Social Inclusion also in South Australia, and has worked in the South Australian Public Sector for over 25 years. She has been a director on the CS&HISC Board since 2008.

A daily multivitamin supplement may improve brain efficiency in older women, according to new research from Swinburne University of Technology.

Centre for Human Psychopharmacology researcher at Swinburne, Dr Helen Macpherson’s four month study of the commercial product Swisse Women’s Ultivite 50+ found some evidence that multivitamin supplements may influence cognitive function by altering electrical activity in the brain.

“The main finding of the study was that 16 weeks supplementation with the Swisse Women’s 50+ multivitamin modulated brain activity,” Dr Macpherson said.

“This is an important result as it shows there are direct effects of multivitamins on the brain.

“Previous research has used measures of behaviour to determine whether multivitamins can affect brain function, but this is the first trial to directly measure brain activity.”

The study, whose results were recently published in Physiology and Behavior, was conducted over 16 weeks with 56 women aged between 64 and 79 who were concerned about their memory or experiencing memory difficulties.

They were randomly assigned to take the multivitamin supplement or a placebo daily.

Volunteers underwent a recording of their brain electrical activity whilst performing a spatial working memory task.  

The study concluded that 16 weeks of supplementation with a combined multivitamin, mineral and herbal formula may benefit memory, by enabling the brain to work in a more efficient way.

The study was funded by Swisse Vitamins.

Upcoming conferences

11th National Conference of Emerging Researchers in Ageing
Making an Impact
Hosted by the University of Queensland/ Blue Care Research and Practice Development Centre
19-20 November
The Greek Club, Brisbane
W: www.uq.edu.au/bluecare/era-2012

Frontline2012 Conference
Hosted by ACS NSW & ACT
20 November
Sydney Masonic Centre
W: www.agedservices.asn.au/events

45th Australian Association of Gerontology National Conference
Ageing: Challenging the Boundaries
20-23 November
Brisbane Convention Centre, Brisbane
T: 02 6650 9800
E:  jayne@eastcoastconferences.com.au  
W: www.aagconference.com

Aged Care Nurse Managers Conference 2012
21-22 November
Caulfield Racecourse, Melbourne
T: 03 9571 5606
W: www.totalagedservices.com.au

4th Annual International Arts and Health Conference
The Art of Good Health and Wellbeing
26-29 November
The University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle WA
T: 0416 641 482
W: www.artsandhealth.org.au/conferences

ACS NSW & ACT Northern Region Conference
Ballina RSL, NSW
29-30 November
W: www.agedservices.asn.au

Palliative Care Nurses Australia
The Sebel Albert Park, Melbourne
10-11 December
W: www.pcna.org.au/conference
E: conference2012@pcna.org.au

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