Melbourne Ageing Research Collaboration Annual Symposium
Royal Melbourne Hospital, Charles Latrobe Theatre.
Future Directions in Ageing Research – What do the Leaders Think?
This event heard from leaders in the fields of Dementia, Falls, Healthy Ageing, and End of Life and Palliative Care.
Speakers included Professor Susan Kurrle (University of Sydney), Professor Anne-Marie Hill (Curtain University), Professor Andrea Maier (The University of Melbourne and Royal Melbourne Hospital), Professor Lorna Rosenwax (Curtin University), and Dr Frances Batchelor (National Ageing Research Institute).
Can Technology Make Ageing Better and Cheaper?
Dr Richard G. Caro
2 May, 2017
The “Can Technology Make Ageing Cheaper and Better?” seminar by Dr Richard G. Caro was held on the 2 May 2017. This event was hosted jointly by MARC and Hallmark Ageing Research Initiative, and provided an opportunity for experts, researchers, and workers in the fields of technology and ageing to come together to hear Dr Caro’s views on how technology has a role as people age.
Dr Caro is the CEO and co-founder of Tech-enhanced Life, a Public Benefit corporation with the mission of improving the quality of life of older adults and their families. Dr Caro started his career as a researcher at Stanford University, and then spent a number of years developing novel medical products (such as the world's first LASIK device for changing the shape of your eyes) at a series of start-ups in Boston and Silicon Valley. Dr Caro received a B.Sc. (Hons) degree from Melbourne University, and a D.Phil. in experimental physics from Oxford University — where he was a Rhodes Scholar.
While much of the western world worries about the economic and human costs of an ageing population, Dr Caro argues that there is room for optimism and a “silver lining”, and that by harnessing the power of technology and the untapped wisdom of the older adult population we can improve the quality of life as we age, expand the capabilities of caregivers, and even make the costs associated with care and services for older people less.
Tech-enhanced Life aims to improve the quality of life of older people and their families, and have started to do this by collaborating with groups of older people. Dr Caro spoke about an experimental sharing, ideation, and evaluation community called the Longevity Explorers — made up of entrepreneurial older adults in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. The Longevity Explorers are a collaborative community that identify, invent, trial, review, and evaluate better solutions and products to overcoming the challenges that come with growing older. The Longevity Explorers not only add value to the community by utilising their expertise and life experience, but are also able to stay engaged and intellectually challenged.
Above (L-R): Jenny Waycott - Lecturer in the School of Computing and Information Systems, Hallmark Ageing Research Initiative; Ruth Williams - Academic Convenor of Hallmark Ageing Research Initiative; Dr Richard G. Caro – CEO and co-founder of Tech-enhanced Life; Briony Dow – Director of the National Ageing Research Institute and Associate Professor, School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne; Frances Batchelor - MARC Program Manager and Director Health Promotion, National Ageing Research Institute.
Making Healthy Normal
Jo Boylan, Southern Cross Care
27 April, 2017
The MARC “Making Healthy Normal” Forum was held on the 27 April 2017 with Jo Boylan, Operations Director at Southern Cross Care. Jo has significant aged care and management credentials from a 25 year career within the aged care industry, spanning companies such as ACH Group and Lutheran Homes. She has also had close involvement with a range of policy issues affecting the aged care sector as an advisor to government departments and as a member of aged care sector reference groups and programs.
As well as holding a Masters in Nursing, in which her principal area of study was Transforming Leadership in Aged Care, Jo Boylan is in the process of completing her PhD in Nursing in which she has been studying the integration of healthy ageing into aged care services.
The “Making Healthy Normal” forum brought together allied health professionals, aged care workers, researchers, and even architects specialising in residential care design to hear Jo speak about the importance of healthy being the ‘norm’ in residential aged care, and how care and health services often focus on ill-being rather than well-being. Jo advocated for the importance of promoting the shift from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset in organisations to enable change in practice.
Jo spoke about her work in Southern Cross Care’s residential aged care facilities, where she has worked closely with care workers, nurses, and management staff to embed a change in attitude and culture. Jo discussed how empowering all people to improve their health-related physical, mental, social well-being, and a focus on developing intrinsic capabilities should be a standard part of care provision. This involves ensuring that employees are provided with education and training, and that consumers have access to health literacy, recovery pathways, and meaningful goal setting.
An example of how Jo has implemented this change in approach within Southern Cross Care was by opening 15 Health and Wellness Centres in residential care facilities across South Australia, where residents have access to physical activities with support from health professionals. This change resulted in 63% of residents feeling more energetic and fitter, 82% of residents feeling stronger, and 93% of residents believing that their quality of life has improved.
Positive feedback from a forum attendee indicated that they gained a number of key messages from Jo’s presentation, stating:
“For me, a key element of the making healthy normal program is that it taps into the innate urge of all people (regardless of age or circumstance) to learn, to be engaged, to be creative and to be able to exercise independence in thought and action.”
The take home messages from Jo’s presentation were that taking positive action towards making healthy normal will:
- prevent or delay avoidable decline, regardless of age or illness
- give access to interventions that promote health and wellbeing, with every interaction
- identify frailty early and reverse it through a dedicated recovery plan
- support people to ‘walk until they die’
- enable people to ‘do the things they love most’
For more information on Jo Boylan's presentation please view the Making Healthy Normal slides:
Above (L-R): Bruce Barber – Honorary Senior Research Fellow, National Ageing Research Institute; Jo Boylan - Operations Director, Southern Cross Care; Briony Dow – Director of the National Ageing Research Institute and Associate Professor, School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne; Frances Batchelor - MARC Program Manager and Director Health Promotion, National Ageing Research Institute.
Healthy Ageing Forum
Thirty five participants attended the MARC Healthy Ageing Forum at Kensington Town Hall.
MARC organisations – University of Melbourne, Austin Health, DHHS/local council, Alzheimer’s Australia, NARI, Western Health, Mercy Health together with older people, clinicians, case managers, students, researchers and policy makers attended the event.
The forum resulted in 63 Healthy Ageing themed project ideas being generated. They included all domains, all settings. All ideas are being reviewed and a summary of the potential projects will be presented to the MARC Steering Committee on 24th March 2017.
Speakers included Dr Sue Malta on Healthy Ageing and Sexuality, Deepa Prahbu on Consumer Wearables, and Anita Goh on Healthy Lifestyles to support brain health.
More details here: Healthy Ageing Forum summary