25 April 2021

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has made it clear the Government needs to act swiftly and comprehensively to provide a fit-for-purpose aged-care system.

I believe NARI has much to offer aged care reform. We have worked for over forty years to improve the quality of life of people living in aged care and ageing at home. We have the capabilities to undertake co-designed research, provide clinical expertise and offer specialist education to those working in the sector.

Deputy Director Debra O'Connor and I met in March with federal government and opposition ministers to discuss ageing research and the difference it is making to the lives of older people. We look forward to NARI playing a central role in improving the Australian aged care system.

Our current work in residential aged care includes the BEFRIENDAS research program to address depression, anxiety and loneliness; development of a best practice model of continence care; a consultation to better understand the quality of care; and development of a pain management guidelines toolkit.

We are currently developing position papers that respond to royal commission recommendations, addressing issues such as integrated care, quality of life and clinical care. Our first paper addressing homecare proposes a new model of service provision, while our paper on research will urge an evidence-based approach to reforms. All will be available on the NARI royal commission website page.

A chapter of the royal commission's final report is devoted to research, with a recommendation to establish an aged care research council. We support this. In my opinion piece for the upcoming edition of Australian Ageing Agenda, I note there is an important role for research to drive best practice in the aged care sector.

As both commissioners recommend, research should be co-designed. Co-designing research with older people, carers and healthcare workers is a core tenet of NARI's human rights approach, and should underpin the aged care reform process as a whole.

The royal commission and COVID-19 pandemic have drawn Australian's focus to aged care. However, it is important to consider other aspects of ageing, not just aged care, and I was delighted to present Professor John Beard as guest speaker for the NARI Director's Lecture in March, discussing the WHO Decade of Healthy Ageing 2021 - 2030.

Professor Beard is from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research, University of New South Wales. He spoke about the potential the Decade of Healthy Ageing offers countries around the world for improving the lives of people as they age. It was a fascinating and informative discussion. If you missed the lecture, please make the time to listen to the recording.

In this newsletter you will read about the launch of two new ENJOY Seniors Exercise Parks - in Ivanhoe and Ballarat. They are part of our ENJOY Map for Health program, and a great example of practical and applied research making a difference to older people's lives.

You will also read about significant grants NARI received to develop a new resource for dementia carers, and specialist dementia training for interpreters.

I would also like to welcome Associate Professor Tuan Anh Nguyen to NARI in the Social Gerontology Division, where he will contribute to our work around cultural diversity and dementia care. Associate Professor Nguyen is currently leading an NHMRC-NAFOSTED grant to develop Vietnam's National Dementia Plan, and has an NHMRC-e-ASIA grant to empower dementia carers in Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and Vietnam with a virtual assistant tool.