Thursday 16 March 2023

Media Release

The National Ageing Research Institute (NARI) has received four significant funding grants from the Australian Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), to support the delivery of better health outcomes for older Australians.

The MRFF’s 2022 grants included a combined total of over $3.5 million for a number of NARI projects – IDC-IMPROVE, MindCare, BEFRIENDING with GENIE and Move Together.

The IDC-IMPROVE project will focus on the co-design, implementation and evaluation of a care bundle to improve indwelling catheter care (IDC) in residential aged care homes, led by NARI Director of Aged Care Research, Professor Joan Ostaszkiewicz.

Current international estimates suggest up to eight per cent of people in residential aged care homes have a long-term indwelling urinary catheter, despite evidence that extended use is associated with significant morbidity and mortality.

“Aged care residents with an IDC are three times more likely to die within a year than those without an IDC, and the number of admissions to emergency departments and hospital is also far higher — it’s unacceptable. With the right strategies and practices in place, this discrepancy can be addressed,” Professor Ostaszkiewicz said.

“This funding will allow us to undertake truly vital research, led by experienced nurses and focused on translating best practice guidelines for the management of IDCs into practice in Australian residential aged care homes.

“This research can save lives, and this grant is crucial to making that possible.”

Two of the funded projects, MindCare and BEFRIENDING with GENIE, will focus on people from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds who are living with dementia, and their carers.

The MindCare project aims to raise self-efficacy, health literacy and improve knowledge of modifiable lifestyle factors that can reduce the risk of developing dementia.

There are just under half a million Australians currently living with dementia and, of this figure, one in three were born overseas.

“Every step of this project will be informed by, and produced with, our end-users. We will develop a dementia risk reduction educational program, designed to be adapted into Australia's multicultural context for delivery by community educators,” Chief Investigator, Dr Josefine Antoniades.

“These resources will provide essential information to culturally and linguistically diverse communities throughout Australia. As figures continue to increase, it’s more vital than ever that dementia education is inclusive of non-English speaking communities.”

BEFRIENDING with GENIE, led by Edith Cowan University’s Professor Loretta Baldassar, in partnership with NARI researchers Professors Colleen Doyle and Bianca Brijnath and Dr Anita Goh, is an intervention to reduce loneliness and increase social support and service access for people living with dementia and their caregivers from CALD backgrounds.

It combines NARI’s successful BEFRIENDING program with a proven online social support network and engagement tool (GENIE), and will be piloted with 100 participants living in four states.

“We know that one in four older Australians experience feelings of loneliness, and for people with dementia who are from a multicultural background, it can be a particularly isolating experience,” NARI Director of Social Gerontology, Professor Bianca Brijnath said.

“Being separated from culture by distance, or because of health circumstances can be incredibly traumatic, and have adverse impacts on health outcomes.

“This program fosters real connections, reducing feelings of loneliness, and is a vital step towards providing wraparound support to culturally and linguistically diverse people who are living with dementia, and their carers.”

Falls are the second leading cause of disability in older people, but despite strong evidence that regular exercise can reduce the occurrence of falls, most older people do not do sufficient exercise to minimise their falls risk.

MRFF funding will enable a pilot trial of the Move Together project, led by the University of Melbourne’s Associate Professor Cathy Said with support from NARI Director of Clinical Gerontology, Associate Professor Frances Batchelor, which aims to increase the uptake of exercise to reduce falls with older people from Italian, Arab and Chinese communities.

NARI Executive Director, Professor Briony Dow, says the MRFF funding will strengthen the Institute’s capacity for undertaking life-changing research.

“This investment will allow NARI, as the national leader in ageing research, to produce evidence, tools and resources designed to improve health and aged care systems, and implement best practice public policy in the health and aged care sector,” Professor Dow said.

“Thank you to our partners, and to the Medical Research Future Fund for continuing to support our important work as we endeavour to create real and lasting change for older Australians.”

NARI Executive Director, Professor Briony Dow, is available for interview.

Media Contact: Olivia Joyce – 0448 129 595

NARI grants received from the following MRFF categories:

IDC-IMPROVE – MRFF 2022 Clinician Researchers: Nurses, Midwives and Allied Health Grant
MindCare – MRFF 2021 Consumer-Led Research
BEFRIENDING with GENIE – MRFF 2022 Dementia Ageing and Aged Care Mission
Move Together – MRFF 2022 Effective Treatments and Therapies and 2022 Dementia, Ageing and Aged Care Project.