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New research centre tackles community and aged care

A new $1.5 million research centre focused on improving community and aged care was opened by Federal Minister for Ageing Santo Santoro in Brisbane yesterday.

The Research and Practice Development Centre will be a joint project between the University of Queensland (UQ) and the state’s largest community and aged care provider Blue Care, best known for Blue Nursing.

The Head of UQ’s Nursing School Professor Elizabeth Davies said the centre’s research would focus on key health problems affecting community and aged care patients.

“It’ll be looking at chronic conditions such as incontinence, dementia, palliative care, wound healing, heart failure, diabetes and arthritis,” Professor Davies said.

Blue Care Executive Director Stephen Muggleton said Blue Care was investing in research that meant better outcomes for the 100,000 Queenslanders who rely on their services each year.

“We want to make sure our staff have access to the most effective treatments for the problems they encounter every day,” Mr Muggleton said.

The centre, based at Blue Care’s Head Office at 56 Sylvan Rd, Toowong, will initially have six staff but there are plans to employ support staff and several clinical nurse specialists from Blue Care.

Rural and remote area nursing expert Professor Desley Hegney will lead the new centre.

Professor Hegney said the centre was different to other aged care research centres because it had a clinical partnership with a private, not-for-profit organisation instead of links with government units, hospitals or commercial businesses.

“This centre is different because it will combine UQ’s expertise in clinical research and Blue Care’s extensive practical experience in assisting frail aged, sick and disabled people in their homes,” she said.

UQ and Blue Care will each contribute to the centre which will seek grants to support its future operation.

Grants will initially be sought for research into nutrition in residential care centres, attracting and retaining nurses to work in residential aged care and undiagnosed heart failure in residential care.