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Older Persons and Cancer and Palliative Care

These four research areas offer opportunities for postgraduate studies to be undertaken as well as research training for early career researchers in quantitative and qualitative methods.

Lead Researcher: Professor Samar Aoun

Family caregiving research in end of life care

The Carer Support Needs Assessment Tool (CSNAT) encompasses the physical, psychological, social, practical, financial and spiritual support needs that government policies emphasize should be assessed and addressed. A series of CSNAT studies is investigating the extent to which the CSNAT used in home based care improves the family carer’s perceived support, physical and psychological health, carer strain, carer distress and bereavement outcomes. Industry partners are: Silver Chain Hospice Care (family carers of cancer patients at home); Motor Neurone Disease Associations (for MND family carers at home); Juniper (for Dementia family carers in the community); St John of God palliative care unit (for family carers support post discharge). International research partners are from Manchester University and Cambridge University in the UK, and University of Victoria in Canada.

Support needs of people with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) and their family carers

Educational and psychological and supportive interventions have been or are currently been trialled for this under-served population group: A palliative care educational program for health professionals working with people with MND and their family carers; Dignity Therapy which is a psychotherapeutic intervention for MND patients and their family carers; Working with neurologists in Australia and patients and family carers on developing best practice guidelines on breaking bad news in MND. Industry partners: MND Associations in Australia. National research partners: Monash University and Swinburne University in Victoria. International research partners: University of Manitoba, Canada and University of Kent, UK.

Support needs of terminally ill people who live alone at home

There are growing challenges facing home-based palliative care services in supporting the increasing number of people living alone who require care. Our studies are examining the effectiveness of suitable models of care in order to provide directions for service planning for this growing and challenging population group. Studies will ascertain key areas that need to be addressed by service providers to assist people who live alone maintain optimal quality of life and receive palliative symptom management and terminal care in their place of choice. Industry partner: Silver Chain Hospice Care.

Development of an evidence based bereavement model of care

A public health approach to developing bereavement services in palliative care offers the foundation for determining the types of bereavement supports that need to be provided to carers and families, depending on their needs and risk factors. The identification of unmet needs and the ability to make recommendations for service provision based on the level of need in the bereaved population will guide health and community services in their resource allocation. Industry partners: funeral providers and palliative care services. National research partner: La Trobe University, Victoria.