Associate Professor Dina LoGiudice is a geriatrician and clinical researcher with a special interest in dementia and ageing well. For close to two decades, she has been studying the impacts of ageing and dementia in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
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'Older Aboriginal people play a vital role in the health of their communities, including providing leadership and support, holding cultural rights and responsibilities for the maintenance of connections to country and caring for extended family,' Associate Professor LoGiudice said.
Rates of dementia are 3-to-5 times higher in Indigenous communities compared to their non-Indigenous counterparts.1
Associate Professor LoGiudice conducted research in the Kimberley region of Western Australia in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Western Australia. She found that rates of frailty, dementia and other conditions associated with age are highly prevalent and occur at an earlier age in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples than their non-Indigenous counterparts.2
Using a participatory research approach, Associate Professor LoGiudice has described the importance of building the capacity of remote Aboriginal caregivers as a community collective to improve carer wellbeing. This approach focuses on empowering Aboriginal carer support workers and Aboriginal community carers to identify carer wellbeing priorities and enact community informed actions to make effective change.
Aboriginal carers are often referred to as hidden carers. Many do not self-identify with the word carer or are not recognised as carers by service providers. Associate Professor LoGiudice
'Many reported that being a carer was difficult and affected their health, but also that it was an important cultural responsibility to look after Elders who had previously cared for family and the community.'
With the assistance of NHMRC Project Grant funding, Associate Professor LoGiudice and her team developed the 'Strong Carers Strong Communities: Keeping Kimberley Spirit Strong' project to support carers living in remote Aboriginal communities in the Kimberley. By identifying and addressing carers’ unmet health needs, the project aimed to foster empowerment, improve psychological wellbeing and reduce carer strain.
'Support for Aboriginal carers requires an empowering, holistic and community-led approach; employing, training and empowering Aboriginal carer support advocates within the community.'
Associate Professor LoGiudice's team drew upon this community-led approach to empower carers within the Kimberly region. Community members were employed as co-researchers and participants were encouraged and supported by researchers to act as community advocates.
'The carers formed carer support groups and utilised art and media to raise awareness and educate their community and youth on the important role of respecting and caring for their older people,' she said.
The project was evaluated by culturally adapted measures of empowerment, depression and stress among caregivers. Associate Professor LoGuidice notes that depression and empowerment are inversely related. At project completion, rates of depression in participant-carers were halved.
A healthy and happy carer will enable the person they care for to remain on Country, with community, for longer. Associate Professor LoGiudice
Associate Professor LoGiudice continues to advocate for integrated care models for Aboriginal people in aged care that are delivered by community-controlled organisations, where possible.
In 2021, Associate Professor LoGiudice was awarded a NHMRC $3 million Centre of Research Excellence Grant for her project 'On TRACK (Teaching, Research And Community Knowledges)' to generate knowledge about culturally safe approaches to optimise the wellbeing and quality of life of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples at risk of or living with dementia.
- Associate Professor Dina LoGiudice
- University of Western Australia
- Gotta be sit down and worked out together – a program for carers of older people in Aboriginal communities
- Team members
- Professor Leon Flicker
- Dr Kate Smith
- Professor Dawn Bessarab
- Professor David Atkinson
- Associate Professor Melissa Lindeman
- Professor Melissa Haswell
- Professor Christopher Etherton-Beer
- Ms Roslyn Malay
- Dr Cathryn Josif
- Dr Zoe Hyde
- Ms Myra Pindan
- Mr Mark Pindan
- Ms Christianne White
- Grant information
- Project Grant
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