Caring Futures Institute a first for Australia

Australia’s first ever dedicated research centre has opened for the study of caring, carers and care solutions.

A new initiative at Flinders University aims to solve complex problems experienced in the care industry, by working in partnership with those in care, alongside their carers.

Sally Robinson

The Caring Futures Institute is a hub of new ideas and technological solutions, which will be generated by bringing people together with different perspectives.

Launched on August 13, the institute is Australia’s first ever dedicated research centre for the study of self-care and caring solutions to transform how we care for ourselves and others.

Inaugural leader of the Caring Futures Institute and Vice President of Flinders University’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Professor Alison Kitson, said caring is fundamental to the future of any society.

“But we need to do better,” she said, “particularly in the context of our ageing populations, chronic illness, rising healthcare costs and the opportunities presented from advancing technology.

“The Caring Futures Institute is focused on better care across the lifespan – developing solutions with partners and end-users to deliver societal and economic benefits.”

Spending on aged care programs and services is expected to rise to $80 billion by 2054-2055, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Economic evaluation helps decision makers fund services and supports that maximise quality of life for older people.

The institute, whose initial partners include the South Australian government, the Heart Foundation, Cancer Council, CSIRO, Flinders Foundation, aged care providers and multicultural community organisations among others, will focus on four key areas. These are Better Systems (in health, ageing, social care systems and services), Better Lives (focusing on self-care, health and wellbeing), Better Care (including caring, supportive, restorative and palliative interventions) and Better Communities (generating social inclusion through co-design and collaboration).

Sally Robinson, theme leader for Better Communities, says the institute wants to hear the voices of  people who haven’t traditionally been included in care research.

“The institute is for people who give care – both practitioners and informal carers, and for people who receive care,” she told Community Care Review.

“There are complex, big issues so we need solutions coming in at different levels.”

Despite having just launched, the institute is already busy on various projects. These include a breakthrough early detection test on autism for children; an app to empower heart patients of all cultures and languages in self-care; an indemnity support online learning platform; evidence-backed digital apps to facilitate nutritional home cooking projects; and an enhanced online support platform for dementia carers.

An important part of this new platform is the icare support group, where carers can come together to share their experiences and challenges, and support one another. Another platform, isupport, will be translated into different languages to provide culturally appropriate programs and support for all communities.

Robinson encourages people to visit the Flinders University website and get involved.

“We want to have a dialogue with people,” she says.

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