National Ageing Research Institute

The National Ageing Research Institute (NARI) aims to improve the lives of older people through the translation of research into policy and practice and the promotion of service innovation in aged and dementia care.

We are currently working on a diverse and innovative range of projects to help people who are living with dementia. They include exploring how art centres in remote communities can link older Aboriginal people to services under consumer directed care, the development of technology to enable people with dementia from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds to communicate easily, and trialling videoconferencing technology with interpreters for aged care assessments.

The projects are at the cutting edge, and build on NARI’s strengths in supporting older people and promoting healthy ageing and independence

Below is a summary of our key projects:

Exploring the ways art centres in remote communities can link older Aboriginal people to services under consumer directed care

The results will provide the government with a model which can be readily translated to approximately 90 art centres in remote community settings where Aboriginal people aged over 55 years comprise around 30% of the artist population. Anecdotally art centres help Aboriginal people living with dementia and other conditions associated with ageing, but integration into the service system has not been explored to date. The prevalence of dementia in remote communities is up to five times higher than the general population and there is limited choice in health and support services. The project will be the first of its kind.

Project Duration: June 2017 – June 2020

Talk2Me Technology – Enabling older people with dementia from CALD backgrounds to communicate their everyday needs 

Talk2Me will explore how people with dementia from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds (CALD) can easily communicate everyday needs with carers who do not speak the same language. Existing technology supporting voice to voice translation (e.g. Google Translate), has not been designed with the needs of older people, including those with dementia, in mind. Talk2Me will address this issue, using a co-design approach.

Project Duration: September 2017 – June 2019

Improving service knowledge and access among older people from CALD backgrounds with dementia 

NARI will trial videoconferencing technology with interpreters for aged care assessments (with the interpreter in a different location to the assessment worker, older person and family). The aim is to improve service access among people from CALD backgrounds and address the issue of delayed diagnosis of dementia, the shortage of interpreters, especially in new and emerging languages and rural/remote areas. It is anticipated the use of e-interpreting will be more cost-effective than face-to-face. It will also enable older people from CALD backgrounds and their families to learn about the current aged care service system in their own language.

Project Duration: June 2017 – June 2019

Mapping the journey in residential aged care for residents with dementia

Royal Freemasons has partnered with NARI to investigate new approaches to deliver consumer directed residential aged care. Residents and families are ill-prepared when a resident with dementia declines in health and ‘transitions’ to a substantially different level of care. NARI will evaluate the enhanced care program for residential services which includes Transition Maps, an information-rich yet simple tool to map, track and coordinate a resident’s journey in care.

Project Duration: July 2017 – June 2019

 Moving Pictures: Using film and digital media to raise dementia awareness in CALD communities

Early diagnosis of dementia is crucial to develop treatment plans, including palliative care, for families to organise their finances, and to ensure that with medication and therapies, a certain quality of life can be preserved. For CALD people with dementia diagnosis is often delayed, occurs at crisis point, thus worsening health and care outcomes. NARI has been sub-contracted by Curtin University to develop 15 short films in conjunction with 5 CALD communities. The films will be hosted on a website and free mobile app.

Project Duration: July 2017 – July 2019

Promoting Independence Through quality dementia Care at Home (PITCH):  co-designing a training and education program for home care workers

This NHMRC-funded project aims to improve outcomes for people living with dementia and their paid and family carers by co-designing and testing an evidence-based specialist training program for community dementia care – the “PITCH program”. Our co-design process involves people living with dementia, carers, home care workers, case managers and service providers as active research partners in all facets of the project, to help ensure the final PITCH program meets their needs and is usable. We plan that this program will directly benefit people living with dementia and their carers by up-skilling home care workers to provide care that promotes independence, improves quality of life, and reduces carer burden.  The project involves a series of phases: (1) co-designing and (2) evaluating a training and education program for home-care workers, and (3) implementing the program as part of a cluster randomised controlled trial.

Project Duration: September 2017 September 2020

The Melbourne Ageing Research Collaboration

The Melbourne Ageing Research Collaboration (MARC) aims to improve the lives of older people through the rapid translation of research into policy and practice to influence systemic change. Funded by the Wicking Trust, partners and other contributors, MARC is a unique consortium of partners, bringing together health and aged care services, universities, research and advocacy organisations, and the broader community.

MARC’s focus is on addressing issues of importance to older people, their carers, health professionals and the wider community, including preventing falls, improving dementia care, promoting healthy ageing and independence and improving the experience for older people at the end of their life. The following dementia projects are undertaken under the MARC program:

Preventing Avoidable Hospital Admissions for People with Dementia (PAHA)

The hospital environment can be distressing for people with dementia and their carers. It can lead to adverse outcomes and complications. Although some hospital admissions are clinically necessary, others could potentially be avoided if support was available to people with dementia and their carers to make decisions about healthcare.

This project aims to understand the main reasons why people with dementia go to hospital emergency departments, identify how many of these admissions could have been avoided; and draw on the experiences and needs of carers/clinical staff to develop resources for carers. The resources will provide carers with support in making decisions about health care needs, reducing the reliance on hospital emergency departments.

Project Duration: May 2016 – December 2018

Strategies for Relatives (START)

Carers of people living with dementia experience depression and anxiety at higher rates than any other group in our community. Programs are needed to support carers in their role. In Australia, however, it is not always possible to provide face to face therapy because of geographical distance, and carers find it difficult to find time to attend community programs.

START is an eight-week program of education, relaxation training and counselling for carers of people living with dementia. Developed in the UK, the program was shown to be effective in reducing the rates of depression and anxiety in carers. The existing program has been adapted for the Australian context, and will be carried out by video-conferencing technology, enabling access to carers living in remote areas.

Project Duration: May 2016 – December 2018