Bringing Interdisciplinary Science to Bear on Aged Care

In this Data Science in the News webinar, we will be exploring the opportunities and challenges of aged care.


  • Emeritus Professor Helen Chenery – President, Queensland Academy of Arts and Sciences


  • Professor Nancy Pachana – Professor of Clinical Geropsychology and Co-Director of the Ageing Mind Initiative at The University of Queensland
  • Professor Luke Connelly – Professor of Health Economics at the Centre for the Business and Economics of Health at The University of Queensland, Honorary Professor The University of Sydney and Professor (part-time) The University of Bologna
  • Associate Professor Steve Macfarlane – Head of Clinical Services, the Dementia Centre, HammondCare and Associate Professor of Aged Psychiatry, Monash University
  • Professor Liz Isenring – Professor of Nutrition and Dietetics, Bond University and Owner, LINC Nutrition

Panel Session Topics

Professor Nancy Pachana: Care in the Community

In the context of a global pandemic and the stark feedback from the Royal Commission, the importance of community and connection has never been more visible. Both nationally and internationally, examples of how communities can provide care in extraordinary times underscores the need to put community at the centre of aged care. My presentation will highlight ways in which community has contributed to aged care outcomes in recent times and look at how the Royal Commission recommendations signpost future directions for community input into care. I will also touch on the important potential role of “social prescribing” in care facilities as well as more broadly within Australia.

Professor Luke Connelly: Aged Care and Economics

The financing and provision of high-quality aged care pose a number of challenges, some of which are inherently “economic” in nature. My presentation will address some of the major economic trade-offs that are likely to be confronted, in future, by both individuals and society. It will also consider the potential roles of the private and public sectors in financing aged care and in the provision of aged care services. Some of these options—such as privately-provided and privately-purchased insurance for long-term care—have not been discussed much in Australia, but deserve to be considered in any debate on the future of aged care in Australia.

Associate Professor Steve Macfarlane: Quantity has a Quality all its own

Behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia affect up to 95% of people living with dementia. Non-pharmacological interventions are universally recommended as first-line treatments, yet a paucity of research exists into their effectiveness, and such work as has been published is inconclusive. Given that all behaviours have (often multiple) causes that are unique to the individual, it is not surprising that research evaluating the effectiveness of a single, standardised intervention across a heterogeneous population has been unconvincing. Can Big Data help in situations where randomised controlled trial methodology is impossible to implement?

Professor Liz Isenring: Considerations and innovations of food and the dining experience in aged care

Food and the dining experience is important for the quality of life and health of older adults. However, challenges such as high rates of chronic disease, malnutrition, low food budget and staff skills and training limitations help explain why food and meals are often in the top 3 most common complaints received in aged care. My presentation will discuss some of the Royal Commission recommendations around food, nutrition and the dining experience, examples of innovative care, safety and autonomy considerations for our ageing community.

About our moderator and panelists

Emeritus Professor Helen Chenery is the President of the Queensland Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is a speech pathologist who began her career at UQ as a tutor in that profession in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. Professor Chenery made outstanding contributions to the University during this time, maintaining a strong research track record while engaging in numerous service roles. She supervised 24 Higher Degree Research students to completion at UQ, obtained over $16 million in grant funding and has 140 peer-reviewed publications.

Professor Nancy Pachana has an international reputation in the area of geriatric mental health, particularly late-life anxiety and driving in later life. She has published over 300 peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and books on various topics in the field of ageing. She has a passion for expanding research, teaching, international collaboration and early career scientist-practitioner support on ageing. Her areas of research include anxiety in later life, psychological interventions for those with Parkinson’s Disease, nursing home interventions, use of assistance animals in later life, older adults and environmental sustainability, strategies for healthy ageing, driving safety and dementia, teaching and learning in psychogeriatrics and mental health policy and ageing. Nancy was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia in 2014.

Professor Luke Connelly’s main interests are in health economics and insurance economics and the effects of institutions (including legal constructs) on incentives and behaviour. His current research interests include health service innovations to improve the health of people with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Ongoing interests include the economics of disability and insurance, compensable injury compensation schemes, and the determinants of health. Luke has served on a number of public committees including the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC), which advises the Australian Minister for Health on the safety, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of new and extant listings on Australia’s Medicare Benefits Schedule.

Associate Prof Stephen Macfarlane graduated from Monash University in 1991 and spent the next 17 years at Peninsula Health, prior to becoming a psychiatrist in 2003 and being appointed Director of Aged Psychiatry in 2005. In 2008 he spent some time on secondment as Deputy Chief Psychiatrist for Victoria prior to being appointed as Associate professor and Director of Aged Psychiatry at Alfred Health, where he remained until formally joining HammondCare in 2016 as Head of Clinical Governance for The Dementia Centre.

Professor Liz Isenring (AKA Dr Liz) empowers people to Be Healthy via the healing power of nutrition. Dr Liz is Director of LINC Nutrition, Adjunct Honorary Professor at Bond University, international speaker, author of over 150 peer-reviewed scientific papers, best-selling author and received over 4 million dollars in research support. After 20 years in academia and health care, she has started a nutrition and wellness business (LINC Nutrition) to provide the latest evidence-based nutrition now rather than waiting the typical 10-17 years it takes for research to be translated into standard care. Dr Liz is passionate about improving nutrition and the dining experience for our older adults. She has been on the board of the Maggie Beer Foundation, Dietitian Connection and international and national professional organisations. Dr Liz has significantly contributed to the nutrition research of older adults.


Start Date: 30/04/2021 [add to calendar]
Start Time: 12pm (AEST)