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Ageing Research Group

Ageing Research Group

The University of Canberra’s Ageing Research Group draws together researchers from a range of disciplinary backgrounds, whose interests and activities coincide through a shared focus on ageing research as it relates to health and wellbeing. In keeping with the University of Canberra focus on research which makes a difference to society, our research targets the evidence base underpinning practices, programs and policies that impact older people wherever they live, including community, residential and a range of health service settings.

Our research collaborations include the disciplinary areas of epidemiology, nursing, economics, social science, public health policy analysis, dietetics, food and nutrition science, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech pathology and exercise science. Our collaborations are local, interstate and international with partnerships involving other universities, local and federal government, national institutions and health, aged care and technology industries.

The Ageing Research Group is an Australian Association of Gerontology (AAG) Collaborating Research Centre.

Our core areas of activity are:

  • aged care
  • chronic disease and chronic disease management
  • dementia
  • digital health and assistive technology
  • health services and older people
  • healthy ageing and preventive health
  • mental health and social wellbeing
  • nursing
  • nutrition and physical activity

Enquiries

Find out more about our research.

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Projects

Ongoing

NameContactDescription
Assistive technology and older people Assoc Prof Stephen Isbel This project explores the value and feasibility of assistive technology in enabling older people to maintain and enhance their health and wellbeing.
Virtual cycling experiences with aged care residents Assoc Prof Jane Frost UC researchers Jane Frost, Nathan D’Cunha, Stephen Isbel, Angie Fearon and Jane Kellett are developing and evaluating virtual cycling experiences for people living in residential aged care
Intergenerational virtual cycling project Assoc Prof Jane Frost UC researchers Jane Frost, Stephen Isbel, Nathan D’Cunha, Angie Fearon and Jane Kellett have partnered with Banksia House and St Peters Anglican College in Broulee to create individualised virtual cycling experiences for residents.
Pharmacists in residential aged care facilities study. Dr Sam Kosari The aim of the study is to develop, implement and evaluate a model that integrates on-site pharmacists into residential aged care facilities (RACFs) as part of the care team to improve quality use of medicines.

The project is funded by the CHN through the ACT’s Primary Health Program. The UC research team is Sam Kosari, Mark Naunton, Rachel Davey.
Aged care services and policy Dist Prof Diane Gibson This project examines current patterns of aged care services from the perspective of policy and practice.
Aged Care Transition to Practice Program: Gerontological Nursing Competencies (GNCs)Assoc Prof Kasia BailIn 2021, the Commonwealth Government Department of Health funded the University of Wollongong and the University of Canberra as a Consortium to deliver the GNCs Program to new graduate and early career registered nurses working in aged care across Australia. The project will implement the GNCs program for new graduate nurses working in residential aged care, providing mentorship, professional development and specialist education. The project team includes Kasia Bail and Diane Gibson (UC) in collaboration with Karen Strickland (ECU).

Website: Aged Care Transition to Practice Program expressions of interest

Gerontological Nursing Clinical ChairAssoc Prof Kasia BailThis conjoint role will lead a community of practice for gerontological nursing across settings in the ACT, providing a network to improve research, education and career development for nurses to improve the quality of older person care in the ACT and region.
International and national surveys of gerontological competency of nursing studentsAssoc Prof Kasia BailIn conjunction with an international team, this project will investigate current knowledge and skills of pre-registration nursing students in relation to older person nursing care.
Ageing Well: Education to Enhance Students’ Opportunities to Maximise Engagement, Experience and Excellence (Project AWESOME) Dr Daniela Castro De Jong Co-designed educational package to address ageism in healthcare students at UC. The project team is Daniela Castro de Jong, Jane Frost, Jane Kellett and Nathan D’Cunha.
Nutrition and Healthy Ageing Trajectories in  Retirement Living (NutriHAT-RL) Dr Jane Kellett The overarching aim of the NutriHAT-RL study is to identify nutrition-led effects associated with healthy ageing trajectories that can potentially impact onset and development of chronic disease starting with a detailed assessment of nutritional status, dietary intake and behaviours, physical function, cognitive performance and social determinants and quality of life in 2,500 individuals aged 55 years of age and over residing in the retirement villages in the ACT region. The Chief investigators are Jane Kellett, Nenad Naumovski, Stephen Isbel & Nathan D’Cunha.

Project Website: https://www.nutrihatrl.org/

UC CARE (Understanding Compassionate care awareness respect and empathy) Assoc Prof Jane Frost With Jane Kellett and Stephen Isbel, the UCCARE program involves a partnership with Warrigal Aged Care, employing and evaluating an innovative education module targeting care staff with the aim of increasing empathetic, compassionate and respectful interactions.
The Sustainable Personalised Interventions for Cognition, Care, and Engagement (SPICE) Program Dr Nathan D’Cunha UC researchers Nathan D’Cunha, Diane Gibson, Stephen Isbel, Kasia Bail, Jane Kellett, Angie Fearon, Nenad Naumovski, Joe Northey & Andrew Woodward in partnership Canberra Health Services, University of Canberra Hospital Specialist Centre for Rehabilitation, Recovery & Research will trial a 12-week evidence-based multi-component program designed for people with dementia and carers. The program includes physical activity, social engagement, nutrition assessment, education and capacity building. The research study will assess the value of this pilot version of this dementia support program, measure impact and effectiveness for people with dementia and carers.
A national survey of intergenerational programs in Australian residential aged care homes Dr Nathan D’Cunha This study seeks to characterise the Ongoing state of intergenerational programs conducted within the Australian residential aged care setting by conducting a nationwide survey. The research team includes Nathan D’Cunha, Stephen Isbel & Daniela Castro De Jong.
Evaluation of Liviuscare smart sensing technology at an innovative dementia care provider, Kambera House Dist Prof Diane Gibson This study is evaluating the use of fall response and management technology within a new small-scale dementia care home in Canberra. The project team is Diane Gibson, Stephen Isbel, Kasia Bail & Nathan D’Cunha.
Ginninderry Living Lab: Open and Play Space Dr Daniela Castro De Jong This project looks at co-designed public spaces and playgrounds in Ginninderry.
Investigating the direct and indirect associations between menopause and brain healthAnanthan AmbikairajahUC researcher Ananthan Ambikairajah has partnered with Professor Nicolas Cherbuin (Australian National University) and Professor Michael Hornberger (University of East Anglia) to investigate the contributions of menopause to brain health to better inform treatment and prevention advice that directly targets women’s health.
Towards a comprehensive predictive model of the contribution of individual and combination of risk factors to brain ageing, neurodegeneration and cognitive declineAnanthan AmbikairajahUC researcher Ananthan Ambikairajah has partnered with Professor Nicolas Cherbuin (Australian National University) to investigate the effects of risk factors for brain ageing and dementia and develop models to assess the magnitude of their impact, and to identify individuals at increased risk of accelerated brain ageing and cognitive decline.
Can x-ray and imaging services for residents of residential aged care facilities be improved?Dr Chandra MakanjeeThis pilot project examines the economic viability of portable versus institutional imaging services on patient outcomes.
Improving collaborative palliative care: after death reviews in residential aged care homesAdjunct Prof Paresh DawdaThis study is being done in conjunction with Calvary and Next Practice Deakin. The aim is to: retrospectively assess the quality of care immediately prior to death; examine the collaborative nature of care provided prior to death, and whether collaborative multidisciplinary care results in improved care of the dying; and to use the ELDAC After Death Audit tool to determine whether it is suitable for auditing end of life care in residential care homes in the ACT. UC research team includes Assoc Prof Kasia Bail.
A proof of concept study evaluating acceptability, barriers and enablers of virtual care for primary care consultations in residential aged careAdjunct Prof Paresh DawdaThe aim of this pilot study is to explore the acceptability and feasibility of using virtual examination in real time using a TytoCare device . Staff at the residential aged care home are already using this TytoCare examination kit for real time telehealth consultations with GPs and NPs. The pilot seeks to assess if this virtual care model can be incorporated as a modality of telehealth care for people in residential aged care; and what are the benefits of a virtual model of care to GPs and residents?
Best practice in non-surgical management of knee osteoarthritisProf Jennie ScarvellUC researchers Jennie Scarvell, Nick Brown and Angie Fearon together with Paul Smith and Tom Ward (Canberra Health Services) are working with other collaborative partners to investigate best practice in non-surgical management of knee osteoarthritis.
Does exercise and movement retraining for knee osteoarthritis change the way we move?Prof Jennie ScarvellUC researchers Jennie Scarvell, Angie Fearon, Nick Brown and Wayne Spratford together with Joe Lynch (Canberra Health Services), Catherine Galvin (ANU) and UC HDR students (Denika Silva, Jacqui Couldrick & Ross Docherty) are examining if exercise and movement retraining for knee osteoarthritis changes the way people move.
Dementia services in the ACTAssoc Prof Kasia BailUC researchers Kasia Bail and Nathan D’Cunha are conducting a survey of dementia services in the ACT.

Completed

NameContactDescription Year completed
Evaluation of InterRAI telehealth placement for final year nursing students (NZ)Prof Sharon BrownieThis project evaluated the implementation of the first Nursing Council of NZ approved telehealth clinical placement for undergraduate students. The InterRAI telehealth placement for final year nursing students was implemented in response to the challenges of conducting health and wellbeing assessments for ‘at-risk’ older people across the Waikato Region during the national COVID-19 lockdown. This collaborative project involved Waikato Institute of Technology (Wintec), Massey University, Waikato District Health Board’s Older Persons Health Service and TAS interRAI Services.

Download report:

A COVID-19 Rapid Response: Evaluating an InterRAI telehealth placement for final year nursing students

2022
Information asymmetry and assistive technology: the role of brokerage services Assoc Prof Stephen Isbel

UC researchers Nathan M D’Cunha, Stephen Isbel, Diane Gibson, Nenad Naumovski & John Goss completed a scoping review of the literature and economic analysis around information asymmetry for Assistive Technology Australia and the potential role of brokerage services to address the fact that many consumers do not have the experience or knowledge to make informed choices about assistive technology.

Download reports:

Information asymmetry and assistive technology: the role of brokerage services

Economic evaluation of assistive technology information – an Australian perspective

2021
Older people and semi-autonomous vehicles Assoc Prof Stephen Isbel UC researchers Stephen Isbel and Diane Gibson have partnered with the ACT government and Canberra-based company Seeing Machines to explore the potential of semi-autonomous cars in enabling older people to keep driving and maintain social engagement. 2021
Better quality health information to provide better quality aged care Assoc Prof Kasia Bail In the Ageo Project, UC researchers Kasia Bail, Diane Gibson, Alicia Hind, Jo Gibson and Natasha Jojo, worked with an innovative local industry partner, undertaking formative and summative evaluations of their pilot implementation of a digital health solution focused on providing better and more accessible patient-centred information to residential aged care staff.

Download report:

Evaluation of ACE in residential aged care: the impact of a digital point-of-care system on residents and staff

2021
Transitioning from hospital to residential aged care Assoc Prof Kasia Bail UC staff and students (Kasia Bail, Daisy Azmi, Todd Kaye, Chrysta Bridge) in collaboration with Canberra Health Services explored barriers to people transitioning from hospital to residential aged care 2021
Dance for Wellbeing – More than the Movement Dr Suzanne Carroll The Dance for Wellbeing program provides dance classes for individuals with Parkinson’s Disease and their carers at the Belconnen Arts Centre and Tuggeranong Arts Centre as well as dance performance opportunities. This research project is a qualitative exploration of the experiences of Dance for Wellbeing participants with a focus on wellbeing aspects related to participating in the classes and related dance performances. The project team is Suzanne Carroll, Michael Dale and Kasia Bail. 2021
Improving older person friendly care practices through identification of barriers and enablers Assoc Prof Kasia Bail This research explores the feasibility of ‘older person friendly practice pedagogies’ and the relationship between the use of practice pedagogies and the frequency of fundamental care provision to and hospital-acquired complications for hospitalized older people. The outcomes of this study are expected to include an older person friendly clinical environment, in which fundamental care is frequently delivered for older patients; and reduced hospital-acquired complications and length of stay. 2020
Arts-based discussion groups for people living with dementia Dr Nathan D’Cunha Undertaken in collaboration with the National Gallery of Australia, the research is an important contribution as to whether art therapy does ‘make a difference’ for people with dementia living in residential aged care. The project identified preliminary evidence for a change in salivary cortisol, improved cognitive performance and quality of life, and reduced depressive symptoms. The UC research team included Nathan D’Cunha, Nenad Naumovski, Andrew McKune and Stephen Isbel. 2020
Cognitive impairment and complex behaviour in a purpose built acute care ward Assoc Prof Kasia Bail UC staff in collaboration with Canberra Health Services explored improving care of people with cognitive impairment and complex behavioural needs in purpose-built acute care ward 2020
Supported decision-making and individual advocacy as tools to assist older persons experiencing elder abuse Assoc Prof Kasia BailUC researchers, Kasia Bail, Sarah Cope, and Murray Turner together with Karen Strickland (ECU) reviewed supported decision-making and individual advocacy as tools to assist older persons experiencing elder abuse. The project was funded by ADACAS. 2020
Dementia care in hospitals programAssoc Prof Kasia Bail UC staff, Canberra Health Services, and a national team led by Mark Yates and funded by the Commonwealth of Australia implemented the Dementia Care in Hospitals Program (DCH). This study is the largest prospective hospital-based study of cognitive impairment in Australia. The DCH program is unique as it links clinical and non-clinical staff education to an over bedside alert the Cognitive Impairment Identifier (CII). 2019
Designing a framework for engaging non-traditional segments in physical activity in natural environments: a pilot project with older persons 65+ at 3 ACT destination sites in CanberraDr Daniela Castro De JongThis study looked at the opportunities for engagement in outdoors activities for community dwelling older people in the ACT. Three were included, and a report was submitted to the funding agency. The UC research team included Cathy Hope, Bethaney Turner, Daniela Castro de Jong & Thomas Bevitt with community stakeholders.2019
Evaluation of quality of care in a four-bed aged care ward Prof Jennie Scarvell UC researchers Jennie Scarvell, Kasia Bail, Stephen Isbel, Jane Kellett in collaboration with Canberra Health Services staff explored quality of care in a four-bed geriatric ward in an acute care hospital as part of developing new models of care. 2018
Older people, dementia and hospital care  Dist Prof Diane Gibson The Hospital Dementia Services project explored service delivery factors that influenced outcomes in hospital for people with dementia. The project was funded by NHMRC and involved colleagues from the University of Sydney and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. 2017
Medication management and dementia in acute care Dist Prof Diane Gibson People with dementia often have complex medication regimens and are at risk of medication problems during multiple transitions of care. This project explored medication processes in acute care episodes and care transitions in order to make recommendations to improve practice. Completed
The National Evaluation of the Nurse Practitioners Models of Practice in Aged Care Program Prof Rachel Davey This evaluation project was undertaken to test the efficacy and feasibility of the pilot program of nurse practitioners in residential aged care. Completed

Staff

NameDiscipline Research interest
Mr Ananthan Ambikairajah Psychology Ageing, dementia, menopause and neuroimaging
Assoc Prof Rachel Bacon Nutrition and Dietetics Nutrition, aged care, digital health, palliative care and mental health
Assoc Prof Kasia Bail Nursing Nursing, gerontology, quality of care, aged care, dementia, cognitive impairment, functional decline and information systems
Prof Nick Brown UC Clinical School Movement and motor control
Prof Sharon Brownie Nursing Interprofessional care, workforce development, student-assisted clinics, telehealth and interRAI
Dr Suzanne Carroll Public Health Epidemiology, physical activity, chronic disease, mental health and wellbeing
Dr Daniela Castro De Jong Occupational Therapy Ageism, arts and humanities for health and wellbeing, dementia and rehabilitation
Dr Dimity Crisp Psychology Mental health and social wellbeing
Prof Rachel Davey Public Health Preventive health, physical activity, chronic disease, health services and digital health
Adjunct Prof Paresh Dawda Medicine

Primary care, chronic and complex care & multi-disciplinary care, digital health, leadership, value based healthcare and palliative care

Dr Nathan D’Cunha Nutrition and Dietetics Dementia, carers, art therapy, bio-markers, nutrition and assistive technology
Dr Angie Fearon Physiotherapy Rehabilitation, healthy ageing, hip pain and patient reported outcome measures
Assoc Prof Jane Frost Nursing Aged care, dementia and assistive technology
Dist Prof Diane Gibson Ageing and social policy Aged care, dementia, health services, digital health and assistive technology
Ms Jo Gibson Nursing

Nursing, palliative care, ageism and clinical leadership and followership

Adjunct Assoc Prof John Goss Economics Health services, chronic disease and health economics
Ms Alicia Hind Nursing Nursing, aged care, sexuality and gender diversity
Assoc Prof Stephen Isbel Occupational Therapy Assistive technology, dementia, rehabilitation, aged care and health services
Dr Jane Kellett Nutrition and Dietetics Nutrition, healthy ageing, palliative care, mental health and malnutrition
Dr Sam Kosari Pharmacy Aged care and pharmacy
Assoc Prof Tanya Lawlis Nutrition and Dietetics Nutrition, food security and social inequality
Mr Vincent Learnihan Public Health Spatial epidemiology, built/social environments, mental health and wellbeing
Assoc Prof Joanne Lewis Nursing Palliative care, aged care & social capital
Dr Chandra Makanjee Medical imaging Health services and medical imaging
Assoc Prof Nenad Naumovski Nutrition and Dietetics Nutrition, bio-markers, healthy ageing trajectories and preventive health
Dr James Neill Psychology Green space and nature-based activity, mental health and social wellbeing
Dr Holly Northam Nursing Health services, social justice in health care and end of life care
Dr Joe Northey Sports and Exercise Science Physical activity and neuro-cognition, exercise and the ageing brain
Prof Mark Naunton Pharmacy Medicine safety (national health priority), pharmacoeconomics, quality use of medicines, gender and ethnicity, physical activity and infectious disease
Assoc Prof Ben Rattray Exercise physiology Physical activity, cognition, brain and health ageing
Dr Indira Samarawickrema Public health Cardiometabolic risk, arrhythmias, physical inactivity, intimate partner violence, cardiac, clinical and applied epidemiology, methodologies, analysis plans, data linkages, trials & interventions
Prof Jennie Scarvell Physiotherapy Rehabilitation, chronic disease and health services
Assoc Prof Helen Southwood Speech Pathology Rehabilitation, neurological communication disorders including dementia
Dr Kellie Toohey Exercise physiology Exercise physiology, physical activity, survivorship, chronic disease, rehabilitation and prehabilitation
Ms Emily Wallis Nursing Nursing and aged care
Prof Jenny Weller-Newton Nursing Housing affordability (social determinant of health), consumer lived experience, reflective practice and workplace learning

HDR Students

PhD

Name Project description
Miranda Batten Evaluation of Pharmacists in Residential Aged Care Facilities Service Model

Supervisors: Assoc Prof Sam Kosari, Prof Mark Naunton, Assoc Prof Joanne Lewis

Georgina Britton Effect of nutritional interventions on quality of life (QoL) in patients with advanced head and neck cancer receiving no anti-cancer treatments

Supervisors: Dr Jane Kellett, Assoc Prof Rachel Bacon and Dr Jodie Ellis

Amanda Bulman Development of a functional beverage containing L-theanine and the effects on sleep quality.

Supervisors: Assoc Prof Nenad Naumovski and Assoc Prof Andrew McKune

Jacqui Couldrick Why Does GLA:D® work ? A pilot study investigating the link between biomechanical factors and a successful outcome for movement retraining in people with knee osteoarthritis

Supervisors: Prof Jennie Scarvell, Prof Nick Brown, Dr Joseph Lynch (ANU), Prof Paul Smith (ANU)

Ibrahim Haider Evaluate the effectiveness of a new collaborative aged care model involving an on-site residential care pharmacist (RCP) in a RACF setting

Supervisors: Assoc Prof Sam Kosari, Prof Mark Naunton and Prof Rachel Davey

Peta Harbour Social group influences on self-management of chronic illness in the baby boomer generation

Supervisors: Assoc Prof Kasia Bail,  Prof Diane Gibson and Prof Mary-Ellen Hooper

Brittany Harriden The effects of processed food consumption on mental health and cognition in people living in retirement villages.

Supervisors: Assoc Prof Nenad Naumovski, Dr Jane Kellett, A/Prof Stephen Isbel , Prof Demosthenes Panagiotakos

Alicia Hind Rainbow Ready? A Qualitative Study of Residential Aged Care and the LGBTIQ Community

Supervisors: Prof Patrick Crookes and Prof Karen Strickland

Agnes Lai Adherence to Mediterranean diet and the association with food literacy among retirement village residents

Supervisors: Assoc Prof Jane Kellett, Assoc Prof Nenad Naumovski, Assoc Prof Stephen Isbel  and Assistant Prof Nathan D’Cunha

Vincent Learnihan

Neighbourhood risk conditions for mental health and wellbeing: A case study of mid to older aged Australians.

Supervisors: Assoc Prof Yohannes Kinfu and Prof Gavin Turre

Elizabeth Low The influence of social isolation on diet quality in older persons living independently in the Australian Capital Territory – a mixed methods study.

Supervisors: Dr Jane Kellett, Assoc Prof Stephen Isbel and Assoc Prof Rachel Bacon

Denika Silva Biomechanical effects after physiotherapy interventions and minimal clinically important change and difference in people with knee osteoarthritis.

Supervisors: Prof Jennie Scarvell, Dr Angie Fearon and Adj Prof Diana Perriman

Yushan Zou Interactive Textile Design for People Living with Dementia

Supervisors: Dr Eddi Pianca, Dr Damith Herath, Assistant Prof Nathan D’Cunha and Prof Livio Bonollo

Honours

Name Project description
Kevin Ding Radiographers’ expectations and experiences of ageing population medical imaging examinations

Supervisor: Dr Chandra Makanjee

Emeliha Jermyn Nurse experiences of caring for older people with cognitive impairment while conducting minimally invasive procedures

Supervisor: Assoc Prof Kasia Bail

Completed HDR

PhD

Name Project description Year completed
Nathan D'Cunha Engaging Activities for People Living with Dementia in Residential Aged Care

Supervisors: Assoc Prof Nenad Naumovski, Assoc Prof Andrew McKune, Assoc Prof Stephen Isbel, Assoc Prof Jane Kellett and Dr Ekavi Georgousopoulou.

2021
Nicole Derby Proximity and partnerships: embedding pharmacists in Australian aged care homes to improve quality use of medicines.

Supervisors: Prof Mark Naunton, Assistant Prof Sam Kosari, Assoc Prof Kasia Bail and Assoc Prof Alison

2020

Honours

Name Project description Year completed
Jennifer Hutchinson The dietary patterns of older people living in retirement villages and associations with anxiety and depression

Supervisors: Dr Jane Kellett, Assoc Prof Stephen Isbel, Assoc Prof Nenad Naumovski and Mr Nathan D’Cunha

2021

Vacation Scholarships

Name Project description
Eleanor Brace Point prevalence survey of cognitive impairment screening – single site study

Supervisors: Assoc Prof Kasia Bail, Chrysta Bridge (ACT Health) and Sean Hambrook (ACT Health)