Northern Australian communities have a higher prevalence of non-communicable diseases than metropolitan Australia. An ageing population also contributes to the non-communicable disease burden.
More than 20% of the Cairns and Hinterland region's population is aged over 60 years, a third more than the Australian average. TAAHC researchers are active in translational research to identify and test interventions to reduced the burden of these diseases and promote healthy ageing. Examples of TAAHC’s work in this area include:
The Healthy Ageing Research Team (HART) of multidisciplinary clinician researchers is led by Edward Strivens (Cairns and Hinterland HHS) in far north Queensland. HART is dedicated to improving the health of older persons across far north Queensland through a commitment of longstanding clinical service delivery, healthy ageing research and facilitation of community led health system design.
HART research has delivered a number of improvements to service delivery: establishment of a new acute care system navigation role within Queensland Health to ensure older people with complex needs access appropriate and timely care in the most appropriate setting; increased Check-Up funding to expand the Geriatrician outreach service to include multidisciplinary input from neuropsychology and physiotherapy; and evidence and recommendations from the ASPIRE study, which examined care transitions of older people to hospital from community into sub-acute care and home were used to develop an Australian-first innovative model of integrated care for older people (OPEN ARCH). OPEN ARCH is now being rolled out in far north Queensland as a partnership between the Cairns and Hinterland HHS, Torres and Cape HHS and the NQPHN.