2014-15 Summer Students

Posted by on 1 December 2014

The cornerstone funding from the Selwyn Foundation plus additional grants from Family Trusts have enabled us to extend our grants to researchers in 2015. Specifically this has meant one extra Scholar for the Universities of Auckland and Massey plus for the first time a grant to a University of Canterbury Scholar.

Bernard Kim

What does the literature say about interventions aiming to reduce or delay entry to residential aged care, and how does this compare with older people’s perceptions?

Freemason’s Department of Geriatric Medicine University of Auckland

Supervisors: Prof Martin Connolly & Joanna Broad

bernard kimTheageing population of New Zealand presents many challenges to health professionals, the elderly themselves and ultimately to society as a whole. Although many older people remain independent in activities of daily living, and the proportion of older people living in residential aged care (RAC) is falling, the rise in total numbers of older people projected to occur in New Zealand will result in a large increase in RAC use in the next 20 years. By 2026, it is expected that the over 65 population will increase by 84% compared to 2010 (1).

The increased numbers of people who will need this service has meant that interventions are sometimes placed which try to reduce or delay entry into an RAC. It has recently been shown that
there is a period of health-related instability which precedes (indeed precipitates) entry into RAC (2).

However, the literature on avoidance/delay in RAC entry is complex and contradictory, and there has been no attempt to investigate the perceptions of older peoples themselves (or their
family/whanau/carers) in terms of what, if any, interventions they feel might be beneficial in this regard.

Olivia Hawke

What are the stumbling blocks for older people during cancer treatment?

Department of Nursing University of Auckland

Supervisor Dr Kathryn Peri

olivia hawkeOlder people are more likely to have complex needs when engaging in cancer treatment. They tend to have comorbidities, geriatric syndromes and additional social suport needs which can be difficult for services to anticipate and address (Overcash, 2013). In addition the physical, financial and emotional toll of cancer treatment can be detrimental to their quality of life, functional ability and adherence to treatment. Those who do not live close to a tertiary center may have to move into funded accommodation for the duration of their treatment, which separates them from their family and community. Access to services for those who live locally can be hindered due to transport issues, financial hardship and social isolation. There are also issues navigating the side effects of cancer treatments, which can impact older peoples quality of life.

Despite their over-representation in the cancer population, there is a knowledge gap regarding the experiences of older people undergoing cancer treatment. Due to predictions that the burden of cancer is only going to increase in the older adult population, research in this area is crucial to providing services that are accessible and address the specific needs of older people. This will ensure every older person gets the maximum benefit from cancer treatment whilst adequately managing other aspects of their lives. This project has been developed as a preliminary study addressing the information deficit in this area. It asks the question: What are the stumbling blocks for older people during cancer treatment? This project is in collaboration with the Cancer Society Auckland Northland (CSAN). The results of this project will assist cancer services to improve cancer care and services for older people.

The primary aim of this study is to explore the experiences of older people undergoing
cancer treatment. The research objectives are:

  1. To identify factors that impact on the experiences of older people undergoing cancer
  2. To guide cancer services to make adjustments in order to better cater for the needs of
    this older population

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