Dr Jessica Nealon, Jessica Bresolin, Nicole Britten, Professor Val Wilson, Dr Hui Chen (Rita) Chang, Professor Victoria Traynor, Associate Professor Ping Yu. Photo by Paul Jones.

Wollongong researchers win funding to improve detection and treatment of delirium

A selection of New South Wales’ finest researchers will share in almost $6 million to improve Aboriginal and elderly health, and provide more efficient patient care.

Professor Val Wilson from the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District and the University of Wollongong’s (UOW) School of Nursing, along with IHMRI’s Professor Victoria Traynor also from the UOW School of Nursing are leading one of nine translational research projects to receive state government funding.

Announcing the funding, NSW Minister for Health and Research Brad Hazzard said; 

“This investment demonstrates NSW’s leadership in conducting priority-driven research that directly translates into improved service delivery, better patient outcomes and improvements in the health and wellbeing of the people of NSW,”

“We identified nine research projects for funding. Of these, it was fantastic to see five grants awarded to projects being undertaken in regional NSW including Hunter New England, Illawarra Shoalhaven and Western NSW local health districts.”

Professor Val Wilson has welcomed the funding to support the research project improving care for hospital patients experiencing post operative delirium.

Older people undergoing surgery are at a higher risk of experiencing delirium. 

Delirium is an acute, reversible, short-term confusion which presents as agitation and reduced alertness.

“Untreated and undetected delirium leads to many health problems including falls, longer stays in hospital and sometimes death. Delirium can become a chronic health problem causing individuals to relocate into a nursing home and also develop dementia,” said Professor Wilson.

During this project the research team will work with clinical staff in recovery units at Wollongong, St. George and Bega hospitals to improve delirium care. 

“This project will use interactive education to improve the prevention, detection and treatment of delirium experienced by older people after surgery. We will use role play scenarios of a delirium with clinical staff undertaking an assessment of the ‘actors’ to detect delirium and implement management strategies to treat delirium. This type of education is not yet commonplace in healthcare workplaces and will provide evidence for the effectiveness of this approach to improve delirium care,” said Professor Victoria Traynor.

The outcomes will be improved detection rates of delirium in recovery units, and thus better treatment of delirium and prevention of associated health problems. This will be achieved by improving staff skills in delirium care. The education goes beyond simply improving knowledge. Findings from this project can be applied by educators working in other clinical areas and expanded to any healthcare problem. Patients in NSW will receive better delirium care and experience less of the health problems associated with untreated and undetected delirium.

Professor Traynor will present a public talk at this year’s UOW Big Ideas Festival on October 16 about her work to equip nurses with the skills they need to recognise and manage delirium in patients.

The Translational Research Grants Scheme was established as part of the Health Services Research Support Program to support research that is conducted in the health system and is directly translatable into policy and practice.

Since 2016, the NSW Government has funded 62 translational research projects, with $21.95 million invested over four years (2015/16 – 2019/20).

Media coverage

WIN News

The Illawarra Mercury

20 August 2019: Wollongong researchers win funding to improve delirium detection

Media contact

Louise Negline, Communications Coordinator

t: 4221 4702

m: 0417 044 867

e: louisenegline@ihmri.org.au

Top photo: Dr Jessica Nealon, Jessica Bresolin, Nicole Britten, Professor Val Wilson, Dr Hui Chen (Rita) Chang, Professor Victoria Traynor, Associate Professor Ping Yu. Photo by Paul Jones.

TAGS:delirum

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