Two researchers from the SAHMRI-based Registry of Senior Australians (ROSA) have been honoured among this year’s Young Tall Poppies of Science.
ROSA Director, Associate Professor Maria Inacio, and NHMRC Early Career Fellow, Dr Janet Sluggett, were recognised for their work to improve medication use and the quality of aged care in Australia.
Associate Professor Inacio has been instrumental in developing ROSA, which analyses data to identify who accesses aged care services and how it affects their health and wellbeing.
“Every year, 1.3 million older Australians use aged care services at a cost of $18 billion to the Federal Government,” she says.
“As our population ages, the need for these services will grow, and it is imperative that we meet this demand with high-quality care. By measuring and evaluating the quality and safety of aged care services with the right tools and systems, we can achieve this.”
Associate Professor Inacio is a joint UniSA and SAHMRI researcher as well as a The Hospital Research Foundation Mid-Career Fellow. Under her leadership ROSA has published 25 studies, delivered three reports to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety and received $5.74 million in additional funding to expand its work on areas affecting vulnerable individuals in aged care.
An interim report handed down by the Royal Commission in October 2019 found that the aged care system was “unkind and uncaring” towards older people and, in many instances, neglected them.
Dr Sluggett has also given expert testimony to the Royal Commission, calling for changes to medication procedures which informed nationwide changes in the medication review program in the aged care sector earlier this year.
The clinical pharmacist and UniSA Senior Research Fellow is credited with developing and testing a new pharmacist service in aged care homes to simplify medication schedules for residents. She was also part of a worldwide collaboration to identify gaps in medication management for frail, older people and draw up new guidelines for health professionals.
“People living in aged care homes are the highest users of medications, taking on average 10 different medications every day,” she says.
“Medications can help us to thrive but can also harm, so it’s really important for us to get the balance right for older people.”
The prestigious annual Young Tall Poppy Science Awards aim to recognise the achievements of Australia’s outstanding young scientific researchers and communicators.
The Award winners - Tall Poppies - participate in education and community outreach programs in which they become role models to inspire school students and the broader community about the possibilities of science.