Research improving education and healthcare for older Australians

6 July 2021

Professor Nancy Pachana, co-director of the UQ Ageing Mind Initiative, features in Brisbane Diamantina Health Partners discussing the importance in moving towards an age-friendly world. 

In the WHO decade of healthy ageing, Queensland translational research is leading age-friendly education and healthcare. Professor Nancy Pachana and Professor Alison Mudge point out that underpinning this work is the premise that as a society, we care about older people, value their perspectives and experience, and see these endeavours as part of a more holistic move towards an age-friendly world.

Professor Nancy Pachana is BDHP’s Theme Leader for Ageing and leads The University of Queensland’s Age-Friendly Initiative. In 2020, UQ became the first age-friendly university in the Southern Hemisphere.

“With the World Health Organisation (WHO) declaring 2020-2030 the Decade of Healthy Ageing, it’s time for institutions, such as universities and hospitals, to lift their game when it comes to being age-friendly,” Professor Pachana said.

“Ageing brings dividends, not simply burden. What we can now prove is that age-friendly initiatives deliver benefits to people of all ages and drive positive social, policy, health and wellbeing initiatives within Australia and beyond.

“As part of UQ’s Age-friendly Initiative, we have committed to ten global principles, and across the many missions of the university, we promote the value of ageing and work to minimise ageism and ageist thinking. We have also introduced services that support older people to pursue their study and life goals, such as UQ Healthy Living in Toowong. The facility has an outreach to local hospitals and health centres, and offers multidisciplinary rehabilitation to people who have experienced a setback in their health.

“We now ask mature-aged students and older people who are using the university, to help us co-design the space and how we interact there, so that we make the university as age-friendly as possible. With our vibrant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit and health care initiatives that invite Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on to campus, we’re also looking to understand if there are any barriers to their full participation.

“We’re also going one step further and working to make our public-facing institutions, like our art museum and sports complex, dementia-friendly. We will invite people living with dementia to evaluate whether these facilities are welcoming, with the overarching goal of making the entire university dementia-friendly one day.

“For longer than a decade, we’ve known that despite an increasing percentage of people being older, the number of people trained to treat older people within various healthcare disciplines has lagged way behind. UQ is committed to reducing this gap by expanding the number of placements where students interact with older people and strengthening our links to local hospital and health services.

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