CDPC program to enhance care outcomes

The real cost of dementia care, impact on young people of having a parent with younger onset dementia, dementia-specific advance care planning and development of national dementia management guidelines are just some of the activities of the $25 million Cognitive Decline Partnership Centre (CDPC).

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Partnership Centre for Dealing with Cognitive and Functional Decline in Older People, launched in April 2013, is a partnership between the NHMRC, HammondCare, Alzheimer’s Australia, Brightwater Group and Helping Hand with the Chief Investigator and Director being Professor Susan Kurrle.

The primary aim of the CDPC is to deliver excellence in research and knowledge exchange for the purpose of improving public health and health care in regard to cognitive and related functional decline in older people.

Over a five-year period, the CDPC will engage in a range of activities to achieve four key objectives:

  • Support implementation of research-informed changes in health and health care systems • Synthesise and disseminate existing research relevant to improving health and health care system performance
  • Undertake collaborative new research to improve health and health care using methods that are cross-sectional, inter-disciplinary, and trans-national in scope
  • Build capacity within the research community to do applied research and within the system to use research as part of change management.

Currently, 17 separate research activities are underway.

Holistic measure of dementia care costs

In light of recent discussions about the costs of dementia care, the Centre’s study into the real cost of long-term of care models for older people with cognitive decline is particularly relevant.

Consultation with consumers, aged care providers and policy makers will be part of the study, as well as the routine collection of data and investigation of alternative finance models.

When your parent has younger onset dementia

Little work has been done on the psychological impact on children when a parent is diagnosed with younger onset dementia, even though broader studies have shown physical and mental health deterioration of young carers over time.

Prof Susan Kurrle with A/Prof Chris Roberts and Karen Hutchinson will use confidential interviews and a focus group to attempt to identify common issues and experiences and to highlight risk factors.

For more information on this project, see the article in the Australian Journal of Dementia Care.

Dementia specific advance care planning

Advance care planning is the dynamic process of articulating the care an individual would want if in the future they were unable to speak for themselves – something that is crucial in cases of predictable cognitive decline.

HammondCare’s A/Prof Meera Agar is leading work into advance care planning for people with dementia with the goal of facilitating a national, consensus approach with sustainable and systematic implementation.

This includes recognising care setting ‘silos’, identifying barriers and addressing legislative frameworks as well as the competency of health professionals.

Developing national dementia care guidelines

Attempts to achieve improvements in dementia care in Australia are limited by the absence of NHMRC-endorsed guidelines for dementia management.

A/Prof Craig Whitehead is leading an activity to address this issue including the review of international dementia guidelines, as well as considering various state approaches.

New national clinical guidelines will be developed as will an implementation strategy across key practice areas including primary care and early diagnosis as well as the care of people with dementia in acute hospitals.

A strong work program

This is just part of the outstanding range of CDPC activities with others including:

  • care of confused hospitalised older people
  • key worker roles for people with dementia
  • alternative respite models
  • effects of regulation on aged are services for people with cognitive decline
  • assessing the risks of living in the community with dementia
  • optimising the quality use of medicines for people with cognitive decline.

For a full list and description of research activities of the CDPC visit its website’s research themes section

New approach welcomed

HammondCare has strongly endorsed the work of the CDPC, with Chief Executive Dr Stephen Judd saying that the Centre heralded a new approach to investigating key issues of interest to the sector.

“The funding partners have identified key needs and interests of providing the best possible care for older Australians and these will be addressed in the work program developed by Professor Sue Kurrle and the Investigator Team,” Dr Judd said.

“We believe that together we are taking a significant step towards realigning research with improving the quality of life for older people who are experiencing cognitive decline and those who care for them.

“Importantly, where there is good existing research, rather than re-invent the wheel, the CDPC program will take those outcomes and consider how best to implement and communicate them.”

For more information, visit the CDPC website.

HammondCare’s involvement in the Cognitive Decline Partnership Centre is supported by The Thomas Foundation.