Finding and developing solutions to challenges associated with an ageing population has never been more pressing, as the number of people over 60 is expected to double to two billion worldwide by 2050.
The West Moreton region is set to experience even faster growth, with the population of older people to double in the next five to 10 years.
Ahead of tomorrow’s (November 3) West Moreton Collaboratives Symposium and Expo 2022 ‘Ageing: Everybody's doing it!’, University of Southern Queensland (UniSQ) researcher Dr Melissa Taylor said addressing the growing demand for care and support for older people was a significant challenge.
“Making a positive difference to the quality of care is integral at a time when our ageing population is expanding at extraordinary rates,” Dr Taylor said.
“West Moreton is one of the fastest growing regions in Australia and is rapidly ageing, which poses a range of challenges.
“We must be collaborative and innovative in our support and service planning to ensure we can overcome the key challenges and deliver the best care we can to older people.”
Dr Taylor is the lead researcher of the West Moreton Care Collaboratives, a Darling Downs and West Moreton Primary Health Network-funded project that connects health and social care providers with the community.
The project, which operates under the auspices of UniSQ, includes two collaboratives – The Care at the End of Life Collaborative and The Older Persons Care Collaborative.
Dr Taylor said the project aimed to improve care and support for older Australians and for individuals with life limiting illness approaching end of life in the West Moreton region.
“A growing, ageing population with increasingly complex issues are putting pressure on families, carers, and services,” said Dr Taylor, whose research focuses on co-designed action plans that address the gaps in support for older people, their carers, and family in the region.
“Some challenges include the known ageing population, a declining GP workforce, obesity and chronic illness management and the need for greater exercise, improved nutrition and access to primary health programs.
“The Collaboratives offer inclusive, responsive and transferable solutions across health care providers.
“Often, what is not achievable by one organisation can collectively be solved by linking several together.
“With UniSQ as lead governance, we have linked collaboratively with West Moreton Health as a partnership approach to older person and end of life care research to improve health outcomes in the region.
“UniSQ engages researchers to connect key partners to solve practical issues in the region that support those at the end of life and all as we age.”
Tomorrow’s free community expo will see hundreds of seniors, family members, caregivers, and people interested in the care of older people make their way to the Ipswich Showgrounds.
Backed by UniSQ and sponsored by several organisations, including West Moreton Health and the Darling Downs and West Moreton Primary Health Network, the expo will include more than 30 community exhibitions from health services and providers across the region and two health professional forums about older person care and care at the end of life.
For UniSQ, the expo provides an opportunity to showcase its leadership, research and education in improving the health and wellbeing of those as they age and approach the end of life.
“Often common problems do not align with medical answers but require practical solutions for practical problems,” Dr Taylor said.
“Linking researchers, clinicians and community provides a novel problem-solving approach that uses a community-driven participatory means to achieve results.”
The health forums will be a major drawcard at the expo. Some topics that will be discussed include voluntary assisted dying, human rights and elder abuse, delirium, dementia and depression, trauma-informed care and older people, exercise and brain health, self-managed aged care and oral health and hygiene.
UniSQ nursing students will also assist with questions and provide free health assessments to visitors throughout the day.
Find out more information about the West Moreton Collaboratives Symposium and Expo 2022.
UniSQ researcher Dr Melissa Taylor.