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Knowledge translation matters

Belinda Goodenough provides a snapshot of highlights from the recent 2014 National Dementia Research Forum in Sydney.

This year’s Dementia Collaborative Research Centres’ (DCRC) annual National Dementia Research Forum offered a smorgasbord of ideas and knowledge exchange on ways to get dementia research into practice and policy.

Working together – knowledge translation matters was the theme explored by almost 200 delegates at the one-day forum held in Sydney recently during Dementia Awareness Month.

Professor John McCallum, head of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Research Translation Group, opened the day with insights into research translation from the landscape of newly-funded NHMRC initiatives in dementia research.

Daisy wows audience

Celebrating this future-focus, delegates were then delighted by a presentation from 12-year-old Daisy Jeffrey, from Sydney, who shared her story of living with her grandfather’s diagnosis of dementia. To help explain dementia to her school friends, Daisy created an amazing video which was viewed at the forum to rich applause. (The video is available on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jieRMwYRtRc).


Closing the research-practice gap

Alison Hutchinson, Professor of Nursing at Deakin University, followed with the keynote speech, showcasing her team’s ongoing Australian Knowledge Translation (KT) effort working with health professionals in aged care. Her presentation, Translating knowledge to close the research-practice gap, looked at ways to introduce new evidence into practice and “de-implement” Keynote speaker Professor Alison Hutchinsonpractices that are not supported by evidence. Professor Hutchinson said the following was necessary for this to occur within organisations:

  • Assess the organisation’s readiness for change.
  • Develop a strategy and sustainability plan.
  • Understand the context.
  • Ensure leadership – commitment by facility managers/Nurse Unit Managers and executive.
  • Establish clear lines of communication process and manage expectations.
  • Provide facilitation.
  • Embed the evidence into the organisation’s existing education and performance enhancement framework, policy and processes.
  • Listen and respond to the concerns of the knowledge users.
  • Evaluate and provide feedback.
  • Patience, tenacity and flexibility are critical because change is slow and adaptation to an ever-changing environment is fundamental.

Slides of Professor Hutchinson’s presentation can be viewed on the DCRC Forum website at: www.dementiaresearch.org.au/forum.html


Views on KT

During the forum’s fast-paced morning session, a diverse range of speakers accepted the 10-minute challenge to join the DCRC Directors to explain what KT means in their world. Delegates heard stimulating perspectives about real-world hunger for trustworthy evidence from representatives of the media (Darragh O’Keeffe, Australian Ageing Agenda editor), education (Dr John Crimmins, Director Genesis Ed/ThinkGP), services (Chris Rigby, CEO Scalabrini Village, NSW), policy (Mark Gaukroger, Director, Dementia Policy, Ageing and Service Improvement, Department of Social Services), and strategic teamwork (Dr Chris Hatherly, National Research Manager, Alzheimer’s Australia).


Lightning Bolts and Light Bulbs

The afternoon program featured three parallel workshops themed for different stakeholders. Building on ‘Lightning Bolt’ oral presentations from select posters, these workshops also featured ‘Light Bulb’ talks from invited speakers addressing: the valuable role of consumers (Christine Bryden, Consumer Dementia Research Network); the importance of training health professionals (Dr Lyn Phillipson, Dementia Training Study Centres); and how to work with policy agencies (Sian Rudge, The Sax Institute, NSW).

Take-home messages from interactive think-tanks in these workshops on how to address KT challenges were shared by Alzheimer’s Australia CEO Glenn Rees, NSW/ACT DTSC Director and AJDC Executive Editor Professor Richard Fleming and Consumer Dementia Research Network member Les Leckie in the final session of the program – following an update about the Cognitive Impairment Project by Anne Cumming (Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care). (See p38 of the Dec-Jan 2014-15 issue of the AJDC for details of the project’s new resources for health professionals and family carers.)


Best poster winner

poster winner
Mary Clifton accepts the prize for best poster at the 2014 National Dementia Research Forum, on behalf of the Alzheimer’s Australia NSW team, from Professor Roger Layton (left), with Dr Belinda Goodenough and Professor Richard Fleming looking on. The prize was sponsored by the AJDC.

Throughout the forum more than 50 teams presented the latest dementia research and products in the poster and resource showcase. The team from Alzheimer’s Australia NSW was presented with the best poster prize by Professor Roger Layton (DCRC-ABC consumer representative). Sponsored by the Australian Journal of Dementia Care, and accepted on behalf of the team by Mary Clifton, the winning poster showcased an exciting key worker initiative in younger onset dementia. Dr Maria O’Reilly, from QUT, won the AJDC prize draw, receiving a one-year subscription.

To round off the day, delegates voted for their favourite pictures in an uplifting art display by children. Grappling with the theme Building a dementia-friendly community, the children drew a suite of colourful ideas on how to create a better future world.

Abstracts for presentations at the 2014 National Dementia Research Forum, originally published in the Australian Journal of Dementia Care, are now available on the AJDC website at https://journalofdementiacare.com/dcrc-2014-forum-abstracts/ and the DCRC website at http://www.dementiaresearch.org.au/forum.html


Dr Belinda Goodenough is DCRC Knowledge Translation Program Manager. Contact her at: b.goodenough@unsw.edu.au

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