MARC Update - December 2016
MARC Program Update
From the MARC Manager

In the last 12 months the Melbourne Ageing Research Collaboration (MARC) has  continued to grow in reputation and significance and with involvement of partners has had a bumper year of education events, public forums and collaborative research projects.

At present MARC is made up of 11 different organisations all involved in the field of ageing. An initiative of NARI, MARC works alongside older people, 20,000 staff in partner organisations, community, university and government entities, to address issues affecting older people. 

As it moves into its third year of operation, MARC has been able to leverage in excess of $500,000 in government and philanthropic funding.  We are also awaiting the outcomes of several other large and small scale grants submitted to expand the program.  Watch this space.

In 2017 we will be commencing further projects and have the first planning event scheduled – see below for further details.

This program update is intended to give a brief summary of the activities and research projects underway.  Please circulate this update to as many relevant people in your organisation to maximise reach in our partner organisations.

If you would like to add your email to this circulation list please contact: or (03) 8387 2305.

We look forward to working with you in 2017 to continue to strengthen and grow the collaboration with new partners and vital new research to improve the health and quality of life for older people.

End of Life Care Forum

The MARC End of Life Care Forum was held on 28th June, 2016. This event, hosted by Mercy Health at Mercy Place Parkville, was an opportunity for aged care workers, healthcare workers, educators, researchers and policy makers to come together to share ideas about end of life and palliative care.

Presentations were delivered by key researchers and clinicians in the field to share new initiatives that aim to improve the end of life experience in hospitals and residential care.  Colleen Doyle, Professor of Aged Care at the Australian Catholic University and honorary researcher at NARI, provided a preview of the newly released National Guidelines for Spiritual Care in Aged Care.  Claire Kemp, Quality and Education Coordinator at Mercy Palliative Care, presented on the introduction of an end of life care pathway that has resulted in improved integration and collaboration between services. Jennifer Zerafa, Wellcare Program Coordinator at Western Health, showcased a new complementary therapy program.

An interactive brainstorming session was held in the afternoon where participants had the opportunity to design a project aimed at improving the delivery of evidence based, person centred end of life care.

Above (L-R): Maureen Walsh - National Learning Manager, Mercy Health; Frances Batchelor - MARC Program Manager and Director Health Promotion, National Ageing Research Institute; Jennifer Zerafa - Wellcare Program Manager, Western Health; Professor Colleen Doyle, Principal Research Fellow at NARI and Professor of Aged Care at the Australian Catholic University; Claire Kemp, Quality and Education Coordinator at Mercy Palliative Care
Technology and Ageing Forum
MARC hosted a Technology and Ageing Forum on 21st July at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. The workshop was facilitated by Dr Richard Caro of Tech-enhanced Life, a Public Benefit Corporation in the United States. Dr Caro has over 20 years’ experience at the intersection of technology and business, having developed a number of successful products and patents. He has a particular interest in the interaction between healthcare, ageing and technology.

Bringing together a diverse range of disciplines, including health care workers, educators, community advocates, policy makers, academics, engineers and IT experts, technological innovations and creative solutions were shared to address key problems facing older people. This included ways to combat poor balance and falls, solutions to address social isolation, and assisting with orientation and wayfinding for people living with dementia.

Take Care Colloquium

The MARC “Take Care” Colloquium was held on 26th August at the Royal Melbourne Hospital to showcase innovations in caring for carers. Covering the themes of formal and informal carers, presentations included strategies to promote and retain a healthy workforce, new support services that are available to carers in the community, and local projects that aim to partner with family carers to support older people in their health care.  

A robust discussion was had when carer consumers joined the panel to provide a perspective on the future of caring.

Above (L-R): Anne Muldowney – Senior Policy Advisor, Carers Victoria; David Sykes – General Manager Learning & Development, Alzheimer’s Australia VIC; Wendi Kruger - Dementia Consultant, Brotherhood of St Laurence; Anne Fairhall - Carer consumer, Alzheimer’s Australia VIC Consumer Advisory Committee; Mark Silver - Coordinator Swinburne Wellbeing Clinic.

Upcoming Events

Healthy Ageing: But Not As You Know It

Are you interested in hearing about new research in the field of healthy ageing?  Do you want to know what new directions and programs are supporting older people to live well? Would you like to help set the research agenda and be involved in designing a new initiative? 

MARC invites you to a half-day forum on healthy ageing. Further details to follow shortly.

When: 23rd February, 1:00-4:30pm
Where: Venue TBA
For questions or to register your interest, email
Current Projects

Falls Project: A pragmatic approach to developing falls preventions in a hospital setting

The MARC falls project is progressing well. Falls in hospitals are one of the most common adverse events experienced by patients. Although most falls do not result in injury, some falls cause serious injury and death. Even falls that do not result in injury may have negative consequences such as causing fear of falling, reduced activity, increased length of stay and additional healthcare costs. This project aims to develop and implement a customised falls prevention plan in hospital settings using local data, and to improve staff knowledge and perceptions of falls prevention strategies and embed improved clinical practice.  Data collection, including detailed post-falls analysis, and surveys of patient and staff attitudes towards falls, is currently underway at Melbourne Health and Austin Health.

This novel research framework and preliminary findings from the project were recently presented at the Australian and New Zealand Falls Prevention Society Conference in November 2016.

Thank you to the team members (below) for their continued work on this novel approach to addressing falls in the hospital setting.

Project Team: Frances Batchelor (NARI), Sue Williams (NARI), Lisa Harvey (Melbourne Health), Jodee Bootle (Melbourne Health), Rebecca Lewin (Melbourne Health), Peter Lange (Melbourne Health), Viki Lui (Melbourne Health), Cathy Said (Austin Health), Janette Blennerhassett (Austin Health), Ross Bicknell (Austin Health), Sandy Schutte (Austin Health), Carolyn McCarthy (Austin Health), Karen MacKenzie (Melbourne Health).

Additional advice from: Jacinta Baker, Lucinda Marr, Jacqui Kay, Kathryn Salamone, Mary Britton.

Dementia Project: Preventing Avoidable Hospital Admissions for People with Dementia

People living with dementia are hospitalised at twice the rate of people the same age who do not have dementia. The hospital environment can be very distressing for people with dementia and their carers. It can also lead to adverse outcomes and complications. Although some hospital admissions are clinically necessary, others could potentially be avoided if support was available to people with dementia and their carers to make decisions about healthcare.

This project aims to identify the primary reasons that people with dementia present to hospital emergency departments and draw on the experiences and needs of carers and clinical staff to develop resources for carers. The resources aim to provide carers with support in making decisions about health care needs.

Data collection will commence in early 2017 at the Austin Health, Melbourne Health and Northern Health sites.

Project Team: Frances Batchelor (NARI), Anita Panayiotou (NARI), Paul Yates (Austin Health), David Taylor (Austin Health), Thomas Chan (Austin Health), Paul MacGibbon (Austin Health), Janice Brown (Austin Health), Joanne Tropea (Melbourne EpiCentre), Kwang Lim (Melbourne Health), Thomas Razga (Melbourne Health), Steven Pincus (Melbourne Health), Sharne Donoghue (Melbourne Health), Susan Harding (Melbourne Health), Drew Aras (Northern Health), Roslyn Payne (Northern Health), Robina Bradley (Northern Health), Jenni Smith (Northern Health), Doris Vella (Northern Health), Jana Gazarek (Northern Health), Yana Sunderland (Northern Health), Jennifer Gilham (Northern Health), Jodeee Bootle (Northern Health), Clare Poker (Northern Health).

Advisory Committee: Paulene Mackell (NARI), Betty Haralambous (NARI), Colleen Doyle (NARI), Paul Yates (Austin Health), Jo Tropea (Melbourne EpiCentre), Drew Aras (Northern Health), Andre Catrice (Department of Health and Human Services), Phillip Catterson (Department of Health and Human Services), David Sykes (Alzheimer’s Australia VIC), Nicola Lautenschlager (University of Melbourne).

Dementia Project: Strategies for Relatives (START) On-line

START is an 8-week program of education, relaxation training and counselling for carers of people living with dementia. Developed in the UK, the program was shown to be effective in reducing the rates of depression and anxiety in carers. This project will adapt the existing program for the Australian context and be the first to test this approach via video-conferencing technology, enabling access to carers living in remote areas.

Participant recruitment has now commenced for people aged 18 years or over; are caring for and living with someone with dementia; and who live within 100km radius of Melbourne.

To find out more about this project, please contact Ellen Gaffy at NARI (03) 8387 2296 or

Project Team: Briony Dow (NARI), Anita Panayiotou (NARI), Ellen Gaffy (NARI), Hannah Capon (NARI), Frances Batchelor (NARI), Colleen Doyle (NARI), Joanne Tropea (Melbourne EpiCentre), Christina Bryant (University of Melbourne), Samantha Loi (Melbourne Health).

Advisory Committee: Leanne Wenig (Alzheimer’s Australia VIC), Anne Muldowney (Carers Victoria), Anne Fairhall (Alzheimer’s Australia VIC Consumer Advisory Committee), Amodha Ratnayeke (Infoxchange), Gill Livingston (University College London), Dianne Calleja (Department of Health and Human Services), Samantha Smorgon (Melbourne Primary Care Network), Nicola Laugenschlager (University of Melbourne), Francine Moss (St Vincent’s Health), Wendy Dunn (Mercy Health), Michelle Kelly (Newcastle University), Mark Yates (Ballarat Health Service).

New Projects

End of Life Care
MARC is providing seed funding for a new project aimed at improving integration and communication between care settings in the management of end of life care.

To find out more about this project or to join the project team, please contact Sue Williams at NARI (03) 8387 2614 or

MARC will also provide seed funding for two new projects that will explore the use of technology to improve health care and the promotion of healthy ageing for older people.

Watch this space for updates about these projects or to find out more or to join the project team, please contact Anita Panayiotou at NARI (03) 8387 2662 or
Appointment of MARC Research Fellow
Anita Panayiotou joined MARC as a Research Fellow in May. She is currently coordinating projects in the Dementia Research Stream and will lead a new technology project.

Anita is a Clinical Neuropsychologist who comes to MARC with experience as a Research Fellow at the Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre, University of Melbourne where she continues to collaborate on research projects that explore the neurocognitive effects of psychosis. She has also developed partnerships with Alzheimer’s Australia Victoria and the College of Health and Biomedicine at Victoria University to implement programs that improve the wellbeing of carers and people receiving palliative care.
In addition to her public sector experiences, Anita comes with experience from the corporate sector where she developed an innovative recruitment model for personnel selection and co-authored a commercially available psychometric tool that has been used by 1,500 job seekers and adopted by over 150 Australian and multinational organisations. This recruitment model is currently being piloted in the selection of junior anaesthetic and intensive care doctors at Western Health.
Research Participants Wanted

Strategies for Relatives (START) On-line

MARC is undertaking a project to investigate whether a program delivered via video conferencing is helpful for carers of a person with dementia to better understand and respond to the behaviours of the person they care for.

This program will involve 8 weekly face to face (via videoconferencing) sessions of education, relaxation and counselling. You will receive instruction on how to use the videoconferencing software prior to the program. Before and after the eight weeks of the program, you will complete some questionnaires about your wellbeing and quality of life, and the wellbeing and quality of life of the person you care for.

To participate in the study, you need to:
  • be 18 years of age or over
  • be caring for and living with someone with dementia
  • live within 100k radius of Melbourne
If you would like to participate or find out more about this project, please contact Ellen Gaffy at NARI (03) 8387 2296 or
Consumer Wearables for Healthy Ageing

The global trend of population ageing has brought great emphasis on ‘healthy ageing’.  A growing number of older adults are adopting wearable devices to monitor aspects of their health, such as physical activity level, nutrition and sleep, possibly in anticipation of improved wellbeing.  Researchers at NARI and in the Health and Biomedical Informatics Centre (HaBIC) at The University of Melbourne are conducting a study to understand how older people are using consumer wearables for health self-management.

Are you 55 years or older? Do you use a smart watch (e.g. Fitbit) or other wearable to keep track of your health and fitness? Do you have 20 minutes to fill in a survey? 

It is possible to take this survey online OR by email:

1.   To complete the online survey, go to:

2.  To request a hard copy of the survey, contact Deepa Prabhu at
Other News

Book Release: A Long Time Coming-  Essays on Old Age

NARI researcher and author Melanie Joosten has just had her second book published.  A Long Time Coming: Essays on Old Age is a powerful collection of essays exploring what it means to grow old in our youth-obsessed world.

The book takes the reader on a timely and clear-sighted investigation into the housing crisis as it affects older people, the politics of nursing-home care, the difficulties of dementia, support services for Indigenous Australians, and how the burden of caring for others can fall disproportionately on women.

Ms Joosten skilfully weaves memoir with interviews and research to guide the reader through the maze of older age which is often viewed by Government as a medical problem and the ageing population as an imminent disaster.The central argument is that as we are encouraged to remain active, stay healthy, and work longer, do we risk turning a blind eye to issues facing the elderly?

Ms Joosten’s first novel, Berlin Syndrome (2011) saw her named as a Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Novelist and awarded the Kathleen Mitchell Award for Young Writers. She is a recipient of grants from the Australia Council and Arts Victoria and residencies from Writing Australia and Varuna.

A Long Time Coming: Essays on Old Age was published by Scribe in May 2016.
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