2022 HOPE Selwyn Scholarships

Posted by on 8 March 2022

We are fortunate this year, due to the generosity of our sponsors and the Friends’ of HOPE, to once again be able to University scholarships for research into ageing related study for 2022. These are all very worthy recipients and hopefully their work will make a difference to the lives of New Zealanders in the future.

Enjoy reading about their interesting and inspiring projects.

The University of Auckland

Tessa Pocock - PhD Candidate in Community Health , School of Nursing

tessaopocock‘Positive ageing’ in the community: Exploring the contribution of built environments and mobility to older adults’ positive ageing in place

For older adults ageing in place, the home and local built environment can become the platform for socialisation, meaningful engagement, and movement. My PhD research focuses on exploring 'positive ageing in place' for community-dwelling older adults, while also considering the unique contribution of built environment and mobility. To date, my PhD research has encompassed two major reviews. In these reviews, I established a conceptual model of positive ageing and subsequently worked to understand the role of mobility in positive ageing. In the final stage of my research, I will use participatory and creative approaches to further explore older adults’ perceptions of positive ageing, built environment, and mobility. Ultimately, I hope my research findings can inform initiatives aimed at creating enriching, engaging, and meaningful environments for older adults.

The University of Auckland

Fathima Shakeela Abdul Saleem - PhD Candidate

Evaluating the spread effects of  standardized behavioural treatment approach in improving swallow and cough function in individuals with Parkinson’s Disease

I am a third-year PhD candidate at the University of Auckland supervised by Dr Anna Miles and Dr Jacqui Allen.

fatimashkeelaParkinson’s Disease (PD) is a neuromotor progressive degenerative disorder affecting 1 in 500 New Zealanders and projected to be double the amount by 2040. Difficulties with communication, swallowing and cough function are common clinical features among individuals with PD.  These clinical complications negatively affect the quality of life and aspiration pneumonia is reported to be one of the leading causes of death in PD.

Our research study aims to evaluate the spread effects of Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT LOUD) and Expiratory Muscle Strength Training (EMST) treatment programmes on talking, eating and drinking, and cough strength and to determine who benefits most from LSVT LOUD and EMST. These treatments are standardized, globally validated treatments that are clinically proven to improve voice, swallow, and cough functions in people with Parkinson’s disease. Improvement in voice, swallow, and cough function will improve social communication and mealtime safety and enjoyment which can lead to an improved quality of life, confidence, and active societal participation. Validation of LSVT LOUD and EMST through randomized two treatment clinical trials, as therapies for voice and swallow dysfunction in people with PD, will offer a safe, non-invasive option to the current range of treatments available.

The University of Auckland

Keiko Oda - PhD Student

Developing continuity of nursing oral care protocols to support older adults’ oral health in the community and aged residential care facilities with interprofessional collaboration.

keikoodaWhile working as a nurse, I noticed the importance of oral health for the wellbeing of care-dependent older adults as a tangible measure to prevent aspiration pneumonia and deconditioning through nursing oral care delivery. Given that New Zealanders suffer a high rate of tooth loss and with the exponential growth of care-dependent older adults under the current pandemic, my research is challenging yet timely.

Currently, I am focusing on developing continuity of nursing oral care protocols to support older adults’ oral health in the community and aged residential care facilities (ARCs) with interprofessional collaboration (IPC). The IPC research team work on the oral care protocol development with an aim of providing continuity of oral care along the continuum of aged care by developing universal oral care assessment tools, care interventions, and evaluations of intervention efficacy.

The aim of the community-based project is to test the effect of the oral care protocol on nursing staff awareness of oral health for dependent OAs, while the AWESSoM (Ageing Well through Eating, Sleeping, Socialising, and Mobilising) Care Home project aims to revise the oral care protocol and evaluate its feasibility and acceptability among staff and residents in two ARC facilities.

University of Auckland

Alison Talmage - PhD Student

"Voices in Harmony": Singing groups for adults with acquired neurogenic communication difficulties

alisontalmage"Neurological choirs" offer a social connection, strategies for communication maintenance/recovery, and an enjoyable shared activity for adults with acquired neurological conditions, such as post-stroke aphasia, Parkinson's or dementia.

As a music therapist and PhD candidate, my action research study aims to improve my own practice and to provide guidelines and resources for similar groups. To date, I have completed an audiovisual analysis of singing sessions and a qualitative document analysis of choir-related materials, and then used reflexive thematic analysis to create a draft manual for choral singing therapy. I am now testing this manual in my own practice and in collaboration with a locum music therapist. The next steps will be seeking feedback from my wider community of practice and choir participants through focus groups. The pandemic has offered both challenges and opportunities, particularly developing creative approaches for online music therapy and an increased emphasis on songwriting as well as singing.


University of Canterbury

Emily Ward

Equitable access in the event of flooding for people who face mobility barriers

emilywardA transportation network is a foundation of a city, however, not all transport networks provide equitable access to amenities including food, education and employment, and can become even less equitable in the event of natural hazards. By catering for the needs of those that face mobility barriers, resilience for everyone will be enhanced (especially for Aotearoa’s aging population), and will also make transport systems more equitable.

My research aims to measure the resilience to flooding through the lens of access to amenity for people that face mobility barriers in Ōtautahi. I also aim to identify transport-related solutions to improve inclusion and resilience in flooding situations. I will use spatial analysis to examine proximity to amenities for both people with disability and older people, factoring in public transport. The resulting proximity evaluation will then be compared with analysis of proximity when applied with flooding scenarios in Ōtautahi. There may be opportunity to engage with people who face mobility barriers to test any assumptions made in the modelling and to further understand how transport network resilience can be enhanced.

University of Canterbury

Nicky Slater

Understanding the underlying brain changes of Parkinsons Disease

nickyslaterParkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder of the human brain behind Alzheimer’s disease. PD prevalence increases substantially with age and will almost double by 2040 in Aotearoa New Zealand due to our ageing population and improving health care that increases life expectancy. An estimated 11,000 New Zealanders are currently living with PD. Primarily thought of as a motor disorder, PD is increasingly recognised as a heterogeneous condition that causes pathology in many brain regions and neural pathways. This widespread neuropathology produces a variety of non-motor symptoms, the most disruptive of which being cognitive impairment.

While neuropsychological assessment is an extremely informative tool to assess cognition, we believe that understanding the underlying brain changes of PD patients may better explain the range of severity of cognitive impairment observed in PD. This research will use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and electroencephalogram (EEG) to ascertain brain measures that distinguish different levels of cognitive status in PD at baseline, and will follow up patients to determine the best predictors of future decline. As the population ages, PD and other neurodegenerative disorders are predicted to become an increasing burden on the health system. The establishment of brain measures that indicate early PD pathology may help with assessment of people who are at risk of future PD, which in turn may help the development of treatments that can delay the onset of PD, thereby decreasing the number of years someone would experience the burden of PD, and/or lessen the severity of PD.


Massey University

Victoria Gibbs - Master of Science (Biological Science)

Supervised by Assoc. Prof Evelyn Sattlegger

Designing a Protocol to Fast-Track Research into a New Cancer Drug Target

victoriagibbsAotearoa has an ageing population, and this heralds an increase in cancer diagnoses in the coming years. Cancer plays a significant physical and emotional burden on patients and their families, with treatments often having undesirable side effects and variable success rates. This makes finding new ways to fight cancer of paramount importance. Cancer hijacks the cell’s starvation sensor protein GCN2 to meet its nutrient requirements, promoting growth and survival. GCN2 needs to bind to a supporting protein (SP) to function. Designing a drug to block this interaction could therefore prevent GCN2 activity, in turn reducing the ability of cancer cells to survive. Features that mediate GCN2-SP binding have been identified in yeast.

Understanding characteristics of the human interaction, including whether it is similar to that in yeast, is the vital next step towards designing an inhibitor of this binding site. I will develop a yeast two-hybrid protocol to study the human GCN2-SP interaction in yeast. Using yeast will accelerate research into this target as they are more amenable to lab techniques than human cell lines. Using this protocol, I will test which residues are vital for binding by mutating them, and also whether the yeast and human interaction is similar enough that the proteins from each species can bind each other. These results will enable me to predict how a drug could be designed to block this interaction.

Massey University

Annabel Grant – PhD study

Maintaining social inclusion for people with dementia.

annabelgrantPeople living with dementia may experience social connections shrinking due to the stigma of the disease or changes in their communication, social cognition and behaviour. Social connection is a core psychological need and conversation skills are important for remaining socially active, but currently people recently
diagnosed with dementia are not provided with support to maintain these skills and live as well as possible. Using qualitative methods, this study aims to find out how people with dementia and their friends experience their social citizenship and whanaungatanga, and how the values, perspectives, and experiences of people with dementia inform our understanding of rehabilitation needs for maintaining social connections. The knowledge generated can be used for enhanced service planning for the future needs of people with dementia on optimal ways to maintain social engagement and live as well as possible.


University of Otago

Anna Askerud

Client Led Integrated Care

annaaskerudI am a registered nurse with a background working in general practice and in hospital care. I worked for many years developing a long-term conditions programme at a large primary care practice working with many older adults in the practice. I began my research into effective models of care for those with chronic conditions in 2009 and completed a masters project on nurse case management from my experiences working with people in this practice.

I began working on this current project in 2019 which examines care planning in a model of care called Client Led Integrated Care (CLIC) in general practice currently in use across Otago and Southland. The research brings together data measuring health outcomes for those enrolled in this programme, and interviews with health consumers and health professionals. I have also talked to health funders and planners responsible for developing this programme. The research aims to gain a clear understanding of where this model of care is working well, and to identify areas where programme modifications could further enhance the intervention for people struggling with the burden of multiple health issues, many of whom are in the older age group.

It is hoped that research into this model of care for those with long term conditions, most of whom are older New Zealanders, may contribute to an understanding of the active parts of the care planning process and the usefulness of providing a personalised care plan. This may inform future practice in our district and across New Zealand.


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  • Spreading the word about what we do / share this newsletter
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