Policy, Research & International

2020 RM Gibson Research Fund Recipients

AAG would like to congratulate the following individuals on their successful applications for the RM Gibson Research Fund Grant:

Dr Katrin Gerber
Affilliation: NARI
Award: $7,000

Project: Lost in grief - An in-depth exploration of the effects of grief on older people’s healthcare use

This project aims to:
1) Examine how grief affects older people’s wellbeing and healthcare use,
2) Identify gaps in the existing service provision of bereavement support and
3) Provide clear and actionable recommendations on how to address these gaps. This project will be significant for increasing our understanding of grief in older people, and for structuring health services to cater for a population in growing need. As a result, this project strongly aligns with the aim of the RM Gibson Research Fund.

Specific research questions include:

What healthcare and bereavement services do older people use after the loss of a significant person in their lives?

How do GPs and practice nurses identify signs of grief in older people? Can they differentiate normal from complicated grief? How do they respond after identifying that an older person is grieving?

What are areas of improvement in the existing support of bereaved older people?

Dr Katrin Gerber is an end-of-life researcher and international scholarship recipient with a PhD in Psychology from the University of Melbourne. She is a research fellow at the National Ageing Research Institute, a casual fellow at Queensland University of Technology and an honorary fellow at the University of Melbourne. Through her work, Dr Gerber is continuously demonstrating her commitment to enhancing the fields of palliative care, end-of-life decision-making, bereavement support and mental health. Her passion for these areas of research stems from her work as a hospice volunteer and her personal experience as a family caregiver.

Please note that the awardee bios are correct at the time the awards are made and will not be updated



Dr Michael Lawless
Affilliation: Flinders University
Award: $7,000

Project: A Way With Words: Using Co-Design to Support Goal Setting in Care

The aim of this project is to develop communication resources (a discussion aid and training materials) to promote goal setting in care planning for older people with multimorbidity using a co-design framework.

This study responds to the documented need for evidence-based and user-centred tools to support older people living with multimorbidity to participate effectively in goal setting during care planning. Goal setting, the sharing of realistic treatment goals, is central to the theory and effective practice of care planning, and is particularly important for frail patients with multiple health and social care needs.

By co-designing evidence-based, consumer-driven communication (knowledge translation) resources with clinicians, older people, and carers, this project aligns with the aim of the RM Gibson Research Fund in that it focuses on translating the best available research evidence on effective and appropriate communication into practical resources, while integrating the diverse experiences and expertise of research end-users.

Dr Michael Lawless (BPsych Hons,PhD) is an early career interdisciplinary health science researcher with expertise in social gerontology (specifically frailty), health communication, and translational health research. His doctoral research explored public representations of dementia risk and prevention in traditional and online social media. This research aimed to illuminate how societal discourses surrounding brain health, dementia risk and protective factors, and individual risk-prevention strategies are constructed and promulgated in traditional and online media. Dr Lawless is (since 2017) a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Flinders University, South Australia, and a Research Officer with the NHMRC CRE in Frailty and Healthy Ageing.



Dr Zoe Kopsaftis
Affilliation: UniSA
Award: $7,000

Project: Augmented reality to educate, empower and support older Australians with COPD to self-manage and direct their own care and wellbeing

The aims of this study are to:

1. Refine and improve a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) self-management resource embedded with augmented reality (AR) technology using a co-design approach with the end user

2. Determine through mixed-methods research if AR technology is an acceptable and feasible approach to improve self-management and inhaler technique among older Australians (> 65 years) with COPD.

Dr Kopsaftis is an ECR with the Translational Medicine and Technology Group within the the Australian Centre for Precision Health at UniSA. Her broad research interests include: translational health research, evidence-based medicine, respiratory medicine (specifically chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma), implementation science, use of novel technologies such as augmented reality, Aboriginal health and tobacco avoidance. Despite only recently completing her PhD (awarded the Dean's Commendation for Doctoral Thesis Excellence), Dr Kopsaftis has extensive experience with conducting systematic and Cochrane reviews, experimental, observational and qualitative research. Her main goal is to ensure research outcomes are translated successfully and available for all, through dissemination of information into policy, practice and for the public.



Unyime Jasper
Affilliation: University of Adelaide
Award: $7,000

Project: Evaluating the impact of a co-created video amongst hospitalised older people and their carers on knowledge to reduce sedentary behaviour

The aims of this project are:

1. To co-create and evaluate a video intervention to increase knowledge among hospitalised older people to reduce sedentary behaviour

2. To evaluate the effectiveness of the video intervention to increase knowledge compared to usual care (future aim)

Research question: What is the impact of a co-created video among hospitalised older people and their carers on knowledge of and intention to reduce sedentary behaviour?

This project aims to create an impact on knowledge about sedentary behaviour in hospitalised older people through the translation and production of knowledge based on research findings. The inclusion of multi-disciplinary staff in the working group will ensure it is concise and targeted. Older people and carers are an integral part of this project. By inclusing older people from two groups to obtain consumer feedback on the storyboard, this project will incorporate the perspectives of a diverse group of older people and carers.

Bio to follow



Awarded in partnership with Dementia Australia Research Foundation (DARF)

Dr Aisling Smyth
Affilliation: Edith Cowan University
Award: $7,000

Project: Developing a sleep intervention for caregivers of people living with dementia

This project aims to develop and implement a tailored sleep hygiene education program for caregivers of community dwelling people living with dementia:
Objective 1: To review the literature and, in collaboration with consumer/ stakeholder reference group, develop an evidence-based sleep education program, specifically for carers of people living with dementia.
bjective 2: To pilot the sleep intervention and measure acceptability and feasibility of this intervention (recruitment, enrolment, adherence and participant satisfaction).
Objective 3: To evaluate subjectively- and objectively-measured sleep quality, and duration pre and post sleep intervention, to assess effectiveness of intervention.
Objective 4: To evaluate psychological wellbeing pre and post intervention including depression, anxiety, stress and burden, and correlate changes in sleep and/or psychological wellbeing and/or perceived carer burden with delivery of sleep education intervention.

Aisling is an early career researcher, based in Edith Cowan University, Perth, WA. Her research interests are focused on the impact of sleep on health. Sleep is a fundamental requirement of life. Poor sleep quality and/or quantity can have severe impacts on physical health and psychological wellbeing. Sub-optimal sleep is prevalent in carers of a person living with dementia (PLWD), with her recent study identifying over 95% of carers of PLWD self-identify as poor sleepers. Sleep interventions are easily implementable, cost-effective means of maintaining and improving caregivers physical and mental wellbeing. This study will be a feasibility pilot project which will develop and test a sleep optimisation program for caregivers of people living with dementia. The project aims to develop an intervention which will help equip caregivers with the knowledge and skills to improve their sleep.

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