News: Dow: National Ageing Research Institute has quality care in focus for 2016

Posted on Tuesday 8 March 2016

Quality of care was high on the research agenda in 2015, and associate professor Briony Dow, director of the National Ageing Research Institute, said this will continue in 2016.

“There’s been a lot of focus on quality care, which I think is important,” Dow said. “The government in particular [is looking to measure this and develop quality indicators].”

One of the important markers, Dow said, is how you measure quality of life for older people who require care. It’s a question she said governments and researchers across the world are working to answer.

“Quality of life … we still don’t really know exactly what that means to older people, particularly older people from a range of different backgrounds,” she said. “What does quality of life mean if you are an old, Indigenous person living with dementia in a remote community? [Likewise], if you are a 65-year-old Greek woman who is caring for her mother as well as a disabled child?”

She pointed to the current work of professor Gill Livingston from University College London, who spoke at the Australian Association of Gerontology conference in November.

“[Livingston] spoke about a research project they are doing that is part of the prime minister’s [challenge on dementia],” Dow said. “They’re looking at how you improve quality of life for a person living with dementia who suffers from agitation.

“The research that’s being done by Gill and colleagues – I am [the Australian researcher on the study] – is trying to make managing agitation as important as every other aspect of aged care, as important as a person having a shower, making sure they get well fed, making sure they get their medication.

“It’s not a new issue and it’s probably not yet a breakthrough, but I think it’s an important area of focus for quality of life of older people living with dementia in residential care.”

Dow will head off to the UK in May to continue the research on managing agitation in care, after she finishes a stint at the University of Melbourne from January to April teaching a core subject (Ageing in Society) of its online master of ageing course.

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