Wollongong researchers win funding to improve detection and treatment of delirium

21 August 2019
Researchers look at a document on delirium care

A selection of New South Wales’ finest researchers will share in almost $6 million to improve Aboriginal and elderly health, and provide more efficient patient care.

A delirium management research project in the Illawarra is one of nine translational research projects to receive state government funding.

The research is headed up by Professor Val Wilson from the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District and UOW’s School of Nursing and Professor Victoria Traynor from the Illawarra Health and Medical Institute (IHMRI) and also from the UOW School of Nursing.

Announcing the funding NSW Minister for Health and Research Brad Hazzard said:

“This investment demonstrates NSW’s leadership in conducting priority-driven research that directly translates into improved service delivery, better patient outcomes and improvements in the health and wellbeing of the people of NSW.

“We identified nine research projects for funding. Of these, it was fantastic to see five grants awarded to projects being undertaken in regional NSW including Hunter New England, Illawarra Shoalhaven and Western NSW local health districts.”

Professor Val Wilson has welcomed the funding of $531,250 to support research into improving care for hospital patients experiencing post-operative delirium.

“Untreated and undetected delirium leads to many health problems including falls, longer stays in hospital and sometimes death. Delirium can become a chronic health problem causing individuals to relocate into a nursing home and also develop dementia,” said Professor Wilson.

Delirium is an acute, reversible, short-term confusion which presents as agitation and reduced alertness.

The research team will work with clinical staff in recovery units at Wollongong, St. George and Bega hospitals to improve delirium care.

“This project will use interactive education to improve the prevention, detection and treatment of delirium experienced by older people after surgery. We will use role play scenarios of a delirium patient with clinical staff undertaking an assessment of the ‘actors’ to detect delirium and implement management strategies,” said Professor Traynor.

The Translational Research Grants Scheme was established as part of the Health Services Research Support Program to support research that is conducted in the health system and is directly translatable into policy and practice.

Since 2016, the NSW Government has funded 62 translational research projects, with $21.95 million invested over four years (2015/16 – 2019/20).