Ageing, Work and Health Research Unit

  • Description
  • About us

    More and more Aus­tralians are liv­ing and work­ing longer. This presents both a chal­lenge and oppor­tu­nity to indi­vid­u­als, the wider com­mu­nity and gov­ern­ment. The Age­ing, Work and Health Research Unit at the Uni­ver­sity of Syd­ney looks at find­ing ways of improv­ing age­ing expe­ri­ences and enhanc­ing the health of indi­vid­u­als and work­ers across the life span.

    The Unit brings together a tal­ented, mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary team con­duct­ing research of excel­lence aligned with the edu­ca­tional pro­grams in the Fac­ulty of Health Sci­ences includ­ing post grad­u­ate stu­dents. Staff research inter­ests range from inves­ti­gat­ing the health of work­ers from youth to retire­ment through to reduc­ing falls in the elderly and devel­op­ing aged care pol­icy. Our research pro­vides the foun­da­tion for lead­ing pub­lic debate and for con­tribut­ing to pol­icy devel­op­ment in response to pop­u­la­tion age­ing in Aus­tralia and internationally.

    The Unit is led by Pro­fes­sor Philip Bohle and Pro­fes­sor Lindy Clem­son in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Dr Kate O’Loughlin and Pro­fes­sor Deb­o­rah Black.

    The Unit works closely with the national ARC/​NHMRC Research Net­work in Age­ing Well which has its cen­tral hub in the Fac­ulty of Health Sciences.

    Researchers of the Age­ing, Work and Health Research Unit work col­lab­o­ra­tively with a range of gov­ern­ment, pro­fes­sional and com­mu­nity organ­i­sa­tions to pro­mote, advo­cate, lead pub­lic debate and ini­ti­ate pol­icy in our areas of health exper­tise. Through our research out­put and com­men­tary, we actively par­tic­i­pate in the national and inter­na­tional pub­lic domain and con­tribute to lead­ing bod­ies such as the World Health Organ­i­sa­tion, the Com­mon­wealth Depart­ment of Health and Age­ing, National Seniors Aus­tralia and State Governments.

    In sum­mary, our research shapes gov­ern­ment think­ing, informs action and con­tributes to age­ing and work being healthy and ben­e­fi­cial experiences.

    Cur­rent Projects

    Par­tic­i­pa­tion, Safety and Age­ing – Led by Pro­fes­sor Lindy Clemson

    The Par­tic­i­pa­tion, Safety and Age­ing Team, led by Pro­fes­sor Lindy Clem­son, has a strong record of achieve­ment in devel­op­ing and test­ing inter­ven­tion pro­grams in areas that have been iden­ti­fied as major mark­ers of down­ward health tra­jec­to­ries. These have largely been in the area of falls pre­ven­tion and more recently the chal­lenges of cop­ing with demen­tia into later life and remain­ing engaged in mean­ing­ful activ­ity. These pro­grams are under­pinned by prin­ci­ples of enable­ment and are designed in con­sul­ta­tion with older peo­ple. They aim to main­tain inde­pen­dence and engage­ment in life roles and activities.

    One exam­ple is the recently pub­lished LiFE pro­gram in the British Med­ical Jour­nal, a pro­gram where bal­ance and strength train­ing is embed­ded in daily activ­ity. This pro­gram arose from older peo­ple voic­ing the need for an alter­na­tive approach to tra­di­tional rou­tine exer­cise. A joint sym­po­sium at the GSA in San Diego later this year will high­light four years of col­lab­o­ra­tive work with the Uni­ver­sity of Madi­son, Wis­con­sin to explore issues of sus­tain­abil­ity and reach of com­mu­nity based falls pre­ven­tion. This work has impor­tant impli­ca­tions for equity of access for urban and rural older people.

    Work and Health – Led by Pro­fes­sor Philip Bohle

    The Work and Health Research Team, led by Prof. Philip Bohle, inves­ti­gates how to make work more sus­tain­able. It aims to iden­tify forms of work that enhance psy­cho­log­i­cal and phys­i­cal well-​being while improv­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity and allow­ing organ­i­sa­tions and com­mu­ni­ties to flour­ish. The Team’s research is divided into five streams that inves­ti­gate:

    • work­ing hours, work-​life bal­ance and health
    • the nature and effects of ‘flex­i­ble’ and inse­cure work
    • poli­cies and prac­tices to reduce the impact of work­place deaths on families
    • work­place health and safety policy
    • the health, work abil­ity and par­tic­i­pa­tion of older workers

    This work is cur­rently sup­ported by seven research grants from the National Health and Med­ical Research Coun­cil, the ARC Dis­cov­ery and Link­age Schemes, and var­i­ous insti­tu­tional part­ners, such as the NSW Office for Ageing.

    Work and Care & Atti­tudes to Age­ing — Led by Dr Kate O’Loughlin

    Work and Care

    Research is needed to estab­lish a knowl­edge base on the inter-​related fac­tors of work, care­giv­ing, and health for older work­ers. A key issue for pol­i­cy­mak­ers world­wide is how peo­ple in later work­ing life (itself extend­ing to later ages) can care for, or oth­er­wise sup­port, grow­ing num­bers of older peo­ple unable to be fully inde­pen­dent because of ill­ness or disability.

    This pro­gram is being con­ducted as part of a three-​way inter­na­tional col­lab­o­ra­tion between the Uni­ver­si­ties of Syd­ney, Leeds and Alberta focussing on multi-​disciplinary and policy-​relevant research, draw­ing on exist­ing Aus­tralian and inter­na­tional data sources.

    Atti­tudes to Ageing

    This research pro­gram inves­ti­gates people’s atti­tudes towards age­ing in a vari­ety of con­texts includ­ing the effects of age dis­crim­i­na­tion in the work place, the effects of age dis­crim­i­na­tion on health and well­be­ing and inves­ti­ga­tions into the out­comes for those with neg­a­tive atti­tudes towards ageing.

    Hon­orary Researcher — Pro­fes­sor Hal Kendig

    Hal Kendig is Prin­ci­pal Inves­ti­ga­tor on the ARC Cen­tre of Excel­lence in Pop­u­la­tion Age­ing Research (CEPAR) led by the Uni­ver­sity of New South Wales in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Aus­tralian National Uni­ver­sity and the Uni­ver­sity of Syd­ney. He leads the CEPAR research pro­gram in Healthy and Pro­duc­tive Age­ing and an ARC Dis­cov­ery grant on socio-​economic deter­mi­nants of health and well-​being among baby­boomers in Aus­tralia and Eng­land. He col­lab­o­rates in research on atti­tudes, aged care and health ser­vices, and inter­na­tional com­par­isons and con­tributes reg­u­larly to pol­icy devel­op­ment and pub­lic debate.

    The Heat­wave Project – Led by Pro­fes­sor Deb­o­rah Black

    The Heat– Ready project exam­ines how Aged Care Facil­i­ties in New South Wales, Queens­land and South Aus­tralia are adapt­ing to increas­ing tem­per­a­tures and heat­waves. Heat-​Ready is funded by the National Cli­mate Change Adap­ta­tion Research Facil­ity (NCCARF) and is con­ducted at the Uni­ver­sity of Syd­ney in con­junc­tion with James Cook Uni­ver­sity and the Uni­ver­sity of Ade­laide. The project aims to:

    • Iden­tify the poli­cies, plans, strate­gies and envi­ron­men­tal fac­tors, used by aged care facil­i­ties that can impact upon an older individual’s health dur­ing peri­ods of extreme heat
    • Assess the abil­ity to which aged care facil­i­ties are able to adapt to the increas­ing occur­rences of extreme heat con­di­tions and hence, estab­lish the heat-​wave readi­ness of aged care facil­i­ties; and
    • Through the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of these aspects, the project aims to guide and inform State and Fed­eral aged care pol­icy mak­ers in the for­ma­tion of poli­cies to enhance the health of older people.


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