It was during her previous work as an acute speech pathologist that Kara Cappetta became convinced more could be done for people with dementia in hospital.
Now the University of Wollongong PhD candidate is in a position to work on solutions to improve the hospital experience for people with dementia.
Her efforts to do this were significantly boosted recently when Ms Cappetta was awarded a NSW Health PhD Scholarship Program.
The prestigious program aims to build research capacity and enhance the delivery of health services and clinical care within the NSW Health system.
Through her PhD, Ms Cappetta will focus on one of Australia’s healthcare priorities: dementia identification and management.
‘’Being acknowledged through NSW Health is actually a huge privilege because i wasn’t expecting it at all,’’ she said.
Her research is made possible through the Illawarra Health Information Platform (IHIP), which was created by the Centre for Health Research Illawarra Shoalhaven Population (CHRISP) – a joint research partnership with the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) and UOW’s Australian Health Services Research Institute (AHSRI).
‘’People with dementia in hospitals often experience negative outcomes, including long lengths of stay, high mortality, and high likelihood of readmission,’’ Ms Cappetta said.
‘’The problem is compounded by people often not being identified as having dementia during their hospital stay, which means clinicians are not always alert to their needs.
‘’There are many gaps in our knowledge around patterns of admission for people with dementia and the factors that are linked with patient outcomes.
The problem is compounded by people often not being identified as having dementia during their hospital stay, which means clinicians are not always alert to their needs.Kara Cappetta
‘’By analysing admission patterns, we hope to find factors that prompt the identification of dementia, and use this information to inform programs which can improve outcomes for people with dementia in the hospital system.’’
AHSRI director Kathy Eagar said the new research partnership brings together clinicians and researchers through a shared resource; a linked data platform combining detailed hospital and community data that is unique in Australia.
ISLHD chief executive Margot Mains said the scholarship was great news for dementia research.
‘’We look forward to the outcomes which will follow from this award, and from this valuable research concerning the hospitalisation of people with dementia,’’ Ms Mains said