Two Mildura-based aged care professionals are set to undertake innovative research to improve care for rural and regional Australians, both in Sunraysia and further afield.

Chaffey Aged Care CEO, Darren Midgley and Clinical Operations Manager Lucas Lloyd, have started their Professional Doctorate Degrees in Public Health and Nursing at the Mildura campus of La Trobe University.

Mr Midgley will focus on the benefits of intergenerational care in residential aged care, while Mr Lloyd will explore barriers to delivering palliative care in a rural aged care context.

Mr Midgley says he hopes his research will provide evidence of the positive impact of bringing older people and children together in an aged care setting.

“There is growing evidence that intergenerational learning programs have a positive effect on the health and well-being of older people,” Mr Midgley said.

“Physical isolation from family clusters, contemporary lifestyles and the erosion of traditional family structures have, over time, widened the generation gap, contributing to a disconnect between the generations.
“My research will inform these types of programs, and improve the experience of care recipients in both aged care and early learning settings.”

Mr Lloyd said he is hoping his research will highlight palliative care as a significant healthcare issue in the aged care environment.

“I’ll be exploring how well rural aged care nurses understand palliative care, in the hope of ultimately improving the way it is delivered in an aged care setting,” Mr Lloyd said.

La Trobe John Richards Centre for Rural Aging Research director, Professor Irene Blackberry will co-supervise the research students alongside Mildura-based Social Work lecturer Dr Sean MacDermott.

Professor Blackberry says upskilling professionals with the latest evidence is essential to maintaining standards of care within the industry.

“Darren and Lucas undertaking these projects shows real commitment and innovative thinking by Chaffey Aged Care. Their leadership will set a great example for others nationally and internationally on how to improve current practice by trialling and evaluating novel ideas,” Professor Blackberry said.

Head of Campus, Dr Deb Neal said the projects are an example of how La Trobe research can benefit the local community.