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$3.3m to improve dementia care and quality of life

Aug 14 2015

A multi-institute research team led by Laureate Professor Rob Sanson-Fisher from the University of Newcastle has been awarded $3.38 million in federal funding to improve dementia care and outcomes.

The project titled ‘Australian Community of Practice in Research in Dementia’ (ACcORD) was one of six Dementia Research Team Grants worth $35.6 million just announced by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Over the next five years it will bring together an experienced multidisciplinary team to improve the health and quality of life for people with dementia and their carers, according to Laureate Professor Sanson-Fisher, a health behavioural scientist.

“Dementia is a disease with a huge social, economic and disability burden, with increasing prevalence as the Australian population ages,” he said. “Unfortunately, many people with dementia have unmet needs relating to personal and home safety, medical care, and legal issues.

“Their carers also have trouble with resources, mental and general health, and their own health care.”

Research team member Professor Kichu Nair, Senior Staff Specialist of Geriatric Medicine and Director of Medical Professional Development at John Hunter Hospital, agreed: “Dementia is closer to all of us than we want to believe. We all know somebody with dementia or somebody caring for a person with dementia.

“Dementia is not the individual’s disease, it affects the whole family and society. We need to do more for the patients and their carers.”

ACcORD will explore barriers to service delivery, evaluate current legal impediments and look at implementing new measures for consistently assessing unmet needs. Clinicians, biostatisticians, health economists, legal experts and consumer representatives will take part, some of whom have previously worked outside the field.

“We are hoping to increase the number of people working in dementia research because, to date, that has been fairly limited,” Laureate Professor Sanson-Fisher added.

“The team is committed to producing high-quality translational research and training the next generation of scientists and practitioners to enable the health care system to more effectively address needs and improve short- and long-term health outcomes for people with dementia and their carers.”

The project spans a number of sites across Australia, including the University of Newcastle, Australian National University, Monash University, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australian and New Zealand Society of Geriatric Medicine, Royal District Nursing Service Institute, and Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute.

The Hunter-based team, aside from Professors Sanson-Fisher and Nair, includes Professors Julie Byles, Chris Doran and Frans Henskens.

* Laureate Professor Rob Sanson-Fisher is Director of the University of Newcastle’s Centre for Health Behaviour and co-leader of HMRI‘s Public Health Program. HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.