08:37pm Wednesday 23 October 2019

New resource aims to help improve health of people with dementia

Based on Australian projections since 2011, there will be a 25 per cent increase in the number of older adults living with dementia by 2020.

An increasing proportion of family caregivers, with limited experience, will therefore be required to administer medications to the majority of these older adults living with dementia in a community setting. It’s an important role because good medication management by family caregivers contributes to improved health outcomes and reduced hospitalisations for the care recipient.

Project leader Dr Judy Mullan (pictured above), a Senior Lecturer in Population Health for UOW’s School of Medicine, and her co-researchers have now devised an online medication management resource for family caregivers of people living with dementia.

The multi-lingual online medication management resource has been designed specifically to support family caregivers administering medications to their family members living with dementia in the community setting. The goal of the website, www.dementia-meds.com, is to help ensure that medication is managed correctly and safely by family caregivers.

Initially the project won funding from a 2011-2012 NSW Health Cultural Diversity Health Enhancement Grants Program to develop a resource for English and Italian speaking family caregivers of people living with dementia. Due to its success, the project received further funding in 2015 from UOW’s Global Challenges to offer support for Macedonian informal caregivers of people living with dementia.

Medication Management brings together researchers from a range of areas including pharmacy, information technology, medicine, nursing, education and public health with a passion for translational research, which will help to improve the lives of community-dwelling people living with dementia and their families.

Dr Mullan said the project has far-reaching implications and offers a service to the community.

“Often family members are thrown into a caregiver role and are expected to have a certain level of knowledge about medications. Dementia diagnosis can be a particularly stressful time and assuming the responsibility of an informal caregiver comes with its own pressures,” she said.

“The website provides practical and useful information regarding medication management which we hope will have a positive impact on people’s lives.”

The project team is seeking input from the community to evaluate the online medication management tool currently available in three languages. It is hoped that future funding from key national bodies will allow the resource to be translated into other community languages.

Other researchers on this project include: Dr Lindsey Harrison who is an Honorary Senior Fellow in UOW’s Faculty of Social Sciences; Associate Professor Victoria Traynor who is the program lead for multidisciplinary postgraduate studies in aged and dementia care; Dr Khin Than Win who is an Associate Professor in UOW’s Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences; Robyn Gillespie who is a PhD candidate in UOW’s Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health; Dr Amanda Baker who is a lecturer in UOW’s School of Education and Dr Pippa Burns who is a lecturer in UOW’s School of Medicine.

University of Wollongong.

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