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Ireland’s First Centre of Expertise in Geriatric Care

Resource type: Grantee Story

Doctors, researchers and clinical staff at the Centre on Excellence in Ageing at St. James’s Hospital in Dublin are well on their way to changing the care of older people in Ireland.

Only two years old, the Centre, led by Dr. Rose Anne Kenny, is having an impact on many fronts as the country’s first centre of expertise in geriatric care. In 2006, its Falls and Blackout unit treated approximately 800 older adults in its first year. The new multidisciplinary stroke team has revolutionised the care of stroke patients, providing the capacity to deliver specialist care from point of admission to discharge and beyond. The successful clinical programmes already have attracted additional research resources for dementia, falls, frailty and social engagement using innovative technologies.

The government has committed to co-fund with Atlantic a new state-of-the-art hospital and research facility to open in 2011. The Centre will provide comprehensive diagnostic and treatment services fully integrated with research and training. The vision is for it to become the National Centre of Excellence in Ageing, and its quality will be comparable to similar centres internationally. Ultimately, it is expected to handle 10,000 day cases annually, and treat dementia, acute admissions, rapid rehabilitation, stroke patients and the chronically ill.

These leaders are also looking ahead to the consequences of Ireland’s ageing projections from an economic, social and policy perspective. By 2030, one in four Irish people will be over 65, with the highest increase in people over 80. Of females born today, over 50 percent is estimated to live to 100.

The Centre, in collaboration with Trinity College Dublin and other Irish universities, has initiated The Irish Longitudinal Study of Ageing (TILDA) pilot study. The full study, planned for 2008, will chart the health, social and economic circumstances of over 10,000 people for at least 10 years. Hopefully, TILDA will develop synergies with similar studies from other countries.

“Ireland is one of the last western countries to launch a longitudinal study. The data will be hugely important for medical and government research and policy. We have the opportunity to answer key questions about successful ageing raised by other studies and to make Ireland the best place in the world to grow old,” said Dr. Kenny.