Ageing and Disability Carers Website created

Professor Webber and Professor BowersProfessor Barbara Bowers and Professor Ruth Webber

ACU Professor Ruth Webber (ACU) and University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor Barbara Bowers have combined 10 years of research in the creation of a website on Intellectual Disability & Ageing. Both said they were delighted and surprised by how far the results of their research had reached. Professor Bowers is the Associate Dean of Research in the School of Nursing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and holds an honorary appointment as an Adjunct Professor at ACU. She is developing a revised version of the website for the State of Wisconsin which has mandated that all carers working in the field of Disability and Aged Care services are to complete the training developed by the two professors.

In 2010 Professor Webber, Professor Bowers and Professor Christine Bigby from La Trobe University received an Australian Research Council-funded Linkage Project and they began a research project titled Increasing organisational capacity of community residential units to facilitate ageing in place for people with intellectual disability. The project led to the development of a training program and manual for staff working in the aged care and disability services sectors, with a particular focus on ageing residents with intellectual disability.

Previous research projects had found that due to a lack of training and resources carers were sending people to nursing homes prematurely because they were afraid of not being able to provide adequate levels of care. The project set out to give staff resources and training to support residents staying in their group home longer.  

The Victorian Department of Human Services (DHS) was impressed by the project results and saw that the training programs and manuals had the capacity to reach a broader audience. In 2012 DHS Victoria gave Professor Webber and Professor Bowers  the funding required to develop a training and educational website . All three researchers have extensive national and international experience in the issues surrounding aged care, such as public policy, the professional development of carers, and caring for people with intellectual disability and each has conducted acclaimed research on the aged care sector.

DHS Victoria will launch the website at a forum, Innovative Accommodation Options, on Monday 21 October.