The newly appointed South Australian Chair of Restorative Care, Flinders University Strategic Professor Susan Gordon, is committed to transforming South Australia into a state that is at the forefront of active, healthy ageing and wellness.
“Healthy ageing is essential for a healthy society now and in the future,” Professor Gordon says.
Bringing over 30 years of clinical and research experience to this new role, Professor Gordon is passionate about changing our health system to optimise participation and quality of life for all older South Australians.
By 2050, a quarter of the Australian population will be over 65. Consequently, a more responsive health system with greater emphasis on early identification of age related changes is essential, she says.
“Person-centred, inter-professional practice is a critical training component for an effective workforce able to provide high quality restorative care focused on quality of life and customer participation,” Professor Gordon says.
She says high-quality research is essential to identify the best use of aged screening to optimise outcomes for all South Australians and to help inform policies that support improvements in a healthy ageing sector.
“For example, in Australia there is Medicare funding to assess age-related changes in people over 75 years of age. If this age limit was changed to 60 there would be the opportunity to address early deficits which can be reversed rather than waiting until they result in an hospital admission,” she says.
ACH Group has jointly invested into the establishment of the new position at Flinders University, in recognition of the importance of restoration and rehabilitation to the future of aged care and to inspire a change in thinking.
Professor Gordon commenced practice as a physiotherapist at the Royal Adelaide Hospital before spending 20 years working in several regional SA communities across public and private practice settings before joining James Cook University in 2006.
Her research interests include musculoskeletal practice, focusing on cervical spondylosis, subacromial impingement, chronic low back pain and heterotopic ossification.
The new position was announced by ACH Group and Professor Michael Kidd AM, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at Flinders University, this week (Thursday 8 October) as part of a Seminar Series on Rehabilitation and Restoration hosted at ViTA, a new ACH facility at Daw Park, south of Adelaide.
Dr Mike Rungie, the Chief Executive Officer of ACH Group, said Professor Gordon will be in a prime position to be able to connect the aged care system, the health system and research to find new approaches to keeping people healthier, productive and enjoying life as they live longer lives.
“When ViTA – an Australian first teaching, restorative and rehabilitation centre – opened its doors last year, it demonstrated real innovation in a sector that has been undergoing significant change,” Dr Rungie said.
“It will result in great outcomes for people, the health and aged care systems as well as training students in very different ways to achieve these outcomes.”
Dr Rungie said that health and ageing was a future growth area for jobs with a projected 1500 per year being required until at least 2050.
“With this position, we will be able to continue to influence the direction of the aged care and health sector, particularly in South Australia and to continue to contribute to the economic development of the state.”
Professor Kidd said the creation of the new position will allow Flinders to have a greater influence on health-care training and service provision nationally and inform current and future policy on health and ageing.
“We are delighted to welcome Professor Gordon to Flinders University where she will bring strategic and practical advice to our educational programs and research activity on ageing and bring together clinical and social thinking,” Professor Kidd said.
“A first in Australia, this position will establish a research centre and clinical hub for the application of evidence based inter-professional education and practice that optimises restorative aged care and wellness.”
“Engaging with community, government and industry is extremely important for Flinders and Professor Gordon will be instrumental in working closely with groups such as the ACH Group and SA Health to develop a community of health professionals focused on older people,” Professor Kidd said.