Ireland has achieved substantial gains in population longevity, healthy ageing and quality of life for older people. While we celebrate this progress, we also recognise the diversity in older age and older people and carers who experience a different reality.
A dynamic gerontological nursing workforce underpinned by strong leadership, integrated research and education, and evidence-based practice is essential to meet the needs of an ageing society.
Working together we can enable older people to age as optimally as possible, to enjoy their later years and when the time comes, to have comfort at end-of-life and experience a dignified death in a place of preference.
The Ageing Integrated Research Network works with older people and our clinical and academic partners to improve the lives of older people, and their experiences and outcomes from engagement with health and social services. Our research is embedded across care settings and with diverse groups of older people including older people with enduring mental health and intellectual disability.
Advance older persons’ health policy within political agendas and as a societal priority
Accelerate translation of evidence into practice to improve older persons' outcomes
Develop gerontological nursing capability and leadership capacity
Stabilise gerontological workforce through attracting and retaining compassionate nurses
Promote intersectoral and inter-disciplinary and public collaboration
Facilitate entrepreneurship, innovation and technological solutions
Frailty and Care Transitions
Leads: Professor Corina Naughton, Dr Teresa Wills, Caroline Egan
Our researchers work with older people, nursing and the wider multidisciplinary team to address the everyday challenges of living with dynamic states such as frailty while striving to maintain connection.
Our research projects straddle a range of topics related to fundamental care and transitions across care settings. We strive to place the voice of older people at the centre of intervention design and evidence translation.
Implementation and evaluation of Frailty Care Bundle (FCB) for older patients in acute care settings
Funder: HRB & SouthSouthWest Hospital Group Applied Partnership Award
The Frailty Care Bundle (FCB) aims to reduce risk factors for hospital associated decline in frail older people during hospitalisation through enabling the nursing and the wider multidisciplinary teams to prioritise mobilisation, nutrition and cognitive engagement.
The project uses a hybrid implementation science model to examine the impact on patient and service outcomes and critique the implementation process using the iPARiHS (Promoting Action on Research Implementation in Health Services) framework.
For more information on the FCB please watch this video.
Integrated Care: Stakeholder perspectives
In collaboration with Cork Integrated Care Programme for older people, we are working with older people, carers and the integrated care team to co-design person-centred services to support older people to live as independently as possible for as long as possible in their community.
We use qualitative interviews with older people, integrated care team and general practitioners to explore key themes on accessibility, continuity of care, and shared care planning.
Transition in care for older people with intellectual disabilities
Individuals with an intellectual disability are experiencing increased longevity which is associated with an increase in transitions in later life. This study aims to provide insights into pre-transitional experiences and decision-making among older adults with intellectual disabilities and their family caregivers who are considering a permanent relocation to a long-term care.
Researchers at the School strive to develop dynamic partnerships with older people, their families and clinical teams to find solutions to everyday challenges that enable people to live life in-the-moment yet focus on what matters most as they approach end-of-life. Advance care planning enables and empowers older people to make decisions about their care and treatment preferences and can reduce burdensome care, family conflict and crisis decision making. Our evidence-based research prepares older persons and their family to engage in necessary conversations and ensures that staff are trained in compassionate communication and a palliative approach to care.
Scaling Up The Family Carer Decision Support Intervention: A Transnational Effectiveness-Implementation Evaluation
Funder EU joint programme on Neurodegenerative Disease(JPND)
This 4-year study is funded by the EU joint programme on Neurodegenerative Disease (JPND) with National Health Research Board support. (2019-2023)
The mySupport study is an international multisite trial of the Family Carer Decision Support (FCDS) Intervention in Nursing Homes.
In previous research, the Family Carer Decision Support (FCDS) intervention was found to reduce family carer decision-making uncertainty on establishing goals of care at the end of life and improve family carer satisfaction on fundamental choices for comfort and quality of care.
There are three core elements to the FCDS intervention:
Provision of a Comfort Care Booklet to family carers of relatives with Advance Dementia.
Training of nursing home staff.
Delivery of a Family Care Conference (structured family meeting).
This study involves implementing the FCDS intervention into 12 nursing homes across 6 countries, two in the Republic of Ireland.
Or link directly to our website where you will find our quarterly newsletter and over 15 blogs on Advance Care Planning and Palliative Care in Dementia.
Implementing Evidence Based Guidance for Dementia Paliative Care
Funder Health Research Board - Applied Partnership Awards, 2018
This project developed and tested the implementation of best practice clinical guidelines Promoting Excellence in End-of-life Care for People with Dementia in care home settings. The guidelines focus on pain, hydration & nutrition and medication management in dementia palliative care. The project utilised participatory action research and implementation science frameworks.
Timmons, S., O'Loughlin, C., Buckley, C., Cornally, N., Hartigan, I., Lehane, E., Finn, C. and Coffey, A., 2021. Dementia palliative care: a multi-site survey of long-term care STAFF’S education needs and readiness to change. Nurse Education in Practice, 52, p.103006.
Coffey, A., Hartigan, I., Timmons, S., Buckley, C., Lehane, E., O’Loughlin, C., O’Connell, S. and Cornally, N., 2021. Implementation of evidence-based guidance for dementia palliative care using participatory action research: examining implementation through the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR). Implementation Science Communications, 2(1), pp.1-14.
Buckley, C., Hartigan, I., Coffey, A., Cornally, C., O’Connell, S., O’Loughlin, C., Timmons, S., Lehane, E. (2022) Evaluating the use of participatory action research to implement evidence-based guidance on dementia palliative care in long-term care settings: A creative hermeneutic analysis International Journal of Older People Nursing
Young and later-onset Dementia & Stroke
Leads Dr Caroline Kilty, Dr Irene Hartigan and Dr Serena Fitzgerald
Our team is passionate about using research as a tool to bring the voice and experience of people and families who experience neurological and cognitive vulnerabilities to the centre of policy making and service provision. Our research influences and advances user-centred policy and service innovation.
A review of Diagnostic and Post Diagnostic process and Pathways for Younger-onsent Dementia
Funder HSE National Dementia Office, 2019
Young onset dementia is defined as dementia onset before the age of 65 years and it is estimated to affects approximately 4000 people in Ireland. The project provides a comprehensive review of young onset dementia management pathways from national and international literature and stakeholder perspectives. Learn more on the Dementia Network website.
Independent Evaluation of National Dementia Strategy and the National Dementia Implementation plan
Funder Health Service Executive, 2018
The Health Service Executive (HSE) commissioned Ipsos Mori in partnership with School of nursing and Midwifery, University College Cork (UCC) to undertake an Evaluation of the Impact of the National Dementia Strategy (NDS). This project utilised a realistic framework to evaluate the strategy and its implementation.
Dementia and Loneliness Policy Position paper
Funder Alzheimer Society Ireland, 2018
Loneliness is a complex phenomenon that impacts on both mental and physical health especially in people living with dementia. The Alzheimer Society Ireland funded an interdisciplinary team to explore the Complexity of Dementia and Loneliness in Ireland. Qualitative research was conducted with People living with dementia (PLWD). Findings reported that the maintenance of social connection aids in fostering a sense of self-worth and self-management, which in turn mitigates feelings of loneliness.
Stroke is a sudden injury to the brain and prompt recognition can reduce the risk of permanent damage to brain issue. Stroke is an important health issue in Ireland, with approximately 6,000 adults admitted to hospitals with a stroke in 2021. Stroke typically affects older people, its prevalence will increase as our population ages. While stroke patient management has improved, there are still few specific therapeutic interventions. Technologies to support treatment and rehabilitation are developing and Cork University Hospital stroke service is recognised as one of two 24/7 stroke thrombectomy centre nationwide. In Cork, between the hospitals, Cork Stroke Support Centre and the University, we have a team of dedicated, skilled multi-disciplinary professionals who work together to provide the best stroke care. In the School of Nursing & Midwifery, the team is led by Dr Irene Hartigan. This team conducted mixed method study to evaluate tele-rehabilitation for Early Supported Discharge stroke patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, the team received to Spark Innovator HSE funding to upscaling an information booklet (passport) for stroke patients and families.
Value Care Project
In assessing the global impact of COVID-19 pandemic on society in moving forward, it is important to understand the communities most affected. Family carers provide a vital, yet often invisible role in our society and healthcare system, however, lockdown increased the burden for many by imposing further restrictions on already limited resources. The Interface project represents the intersection between health and social care community services and seeks to provide a greater understanding of how we value the contribution of family carers. The Interface project led by Dr Irene Hartigan from UCC's School of Nursing and Midwifery, in collaboration Dr Nikki Dunne, Family Carers Ireland (FCI) engaged a qualitative exploratory participatory stepwise research design. The Interface project established research priorities for carers, this brings increased awareness of the importance of community provision and helps shape reform. Key organisations, such as Eurocarers and Health Research Charities Ireland were involved in the Interface project. Members of the research team at UCC include Olivia Rachel Donegan, Graduate Medical Student and Research Assistant, UCC, Dr Ruth Hally, Civic Engagement Office, UCC, Dr Nicola Cornally, Senior Lecturer, School of Nursing and Midwifery UCC, Dr Caroline Dalton O'Connor, Lecturer, School of Nursing and Midwifery, UCC. Interface has received funding from Irish Research Council, New Foundations 2021, which enabled this valuable research.
Click through the images on the tab above for more research themes
Meet the UCC Gerontological Nursing Team
Professor Corina Naughton
Professor of Clinical Nursing in Older Person’s Healthcare
My clinical professor post is a joint appointment between University College Cork and the HSE South/South West Hospital group
My work focuses on evidence translation into clinical practice to improve experience and outcomes for older people living with frailty and/or dementia. My goal is to develop an age-attuned workforce and environment.
My primary research activities centre on: improving care and outcomes of the older person in acute care settings; building workforce gerontological capability and retention, and operationalising integrated care pathways for community dwelling older people
Lecturer Practitioner Gerontological Nursing
Post Graduate Cert/Diploma in Nursing (Gerontological) Programme Coordinator
Patricia Fehin is a Lecturer-Practitioner (Nursing) in the Catherine McAuley School of Nursing and Midwifery at University College Cork. As a Registered General Nurse, Patricia has extensive clinical nursing experience including general medicine, neurosurgery, intensive care, coronary care, older adult nursing, and practice development; experience has been gained in both the UK and Ireland. She lectures on the undergraduate (BSc Nursing) and postgraduate (Post Graduate Diploma/Certificate in Nursing, and Nurse Prescribing) programs at UCC and has a clinical practice and student support remit within the older adult services. Patricia's research interest focuses on end-of-life, decision making capacity, and ensuing healthcare legal, ethical, and professional concerns.
Dr Nicola Cornally
Senior Lecturer Gerontological Nursing
Nicola is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, University College Cork (UCC). She has conducted national research studies in the area of dementia palliative care, healthcare design for dignified end-of-life care and contemporary end of life issues including advance care planning. She is currently the national implementation lead on an EU JPND funded project implementing comfort care guidance for family of people with Advanced Dementia mysupportstudy.eu
She is the programme lead for the MSc Healthcare Quality Improvement at UCC and is co-director of Health Services Research for the School.
Nicola is a Registered General Nurse with clinical nursing experience in general medicine and care of the older adult. Nicola has also worked in a senior clinical position in practice development which is where her interest in evidence-based practice was born.
Dr Caroline Kilty
Lecturer Gerontological Nursing
Caroline is a Lecturer at the School of Nursing and Midwifery at University College Cork, and a member of the Older Adult teaching team within the School. Caroline currently teaches at undergraduate and post graduate levels. Before this, Caroline worked as a mental health nurse for 15 years, working both in the UK and Ireland. Before joining the School, Caroline worked as a CNM in the area of dementia care for 9 years, and completed her PhD and Post doctoral work in the area of dementia and health professions education. Caroline is a proactive early career researcher, with experience at co-applicant and PI levels. Caroline has a keen research interest in the area of young onset dementia and co-production in research. She has recently completed a recent Irish report entitled Young Onset Dementia: a Review of Diagnostic and Post-diagnostic Processes and Pathways, and has just begun a new project exploring ways to optimise community responses to support people with young onset dementia.
Dr Irene Hartigan
Lecturer Gerontological Nursing
Irene is a lecturer in the School of Nursing and Midwifery, at University College Cork (UCC). Within this role, Irene has academic, research and teaching commitments. Irene is a registered general nurse (R.G.N) and nurse tutor with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI). As a researcher, Irene is currently CO-PI on an EU JPND funded project. Irene leads knowledge, translation and exchange (KTE) work package across 6 partner countries on the mysupportstudy.eu which underpins the integration of project activities and helps connect networks. Irene has secured several funded research projects which entailed innovate design and management of chronic conditions which includes stroke, dementia and palliative care across various settings. In her role, Irene has worked with the Alzheimer's Society of Ireland, Cork Stroke Support and Family Carers Ireland. Irene is Co-Chair of Teaching and Learning across the post graduate programmes in School of Nursing and Midwifery.
Dr Serena FitzGerald
Lecturer Gerontological Nursing
Serena is a Lecturer in the School of Nursing and Midwifery. She is coordinator for the MSc in Nursing Studies and teaches across undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in the areas of research methods and evidence-based nursing and midwifery practice. Serena has been actively involved in national and international funded multi-stakeholder projects relating to health behaviours, decision-making and palliative care. Serena is Director of the JPND Early Career Research Committee and Vice-Chair of the Early Career Research Forum for the All-Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care.
Ms Caroline Egan
Lecturer BSc Nursing Intellectual Disability
I am a lecturer in the School of Nursing and Midwifery and an RNID who holds a MSc., Post-Graduate Diploma in Gerontology and a BSc from UCC. I am currently a PhD. candidate, my thesis explores the concept of transitioning residence among older adults with intellectual disabilities. My primary research interest lies in the area of supporting the older person with Intellectual Disability and the experiences of caregivers. Prior to taking up this academic post I worked for more than 20 years as a staff nurse and Clinical Nurse Manager within Irish Disability services.
Dr Teresa Wills
Lecturer Gerontological Nursing
I am a college lecturer in the School of Nursing and Midwifery, University College Cork.
During my clinical career, I worked as an intensive care, diabetic, infection control nurse, clinical placement co-ordinator and nurse tutor. In my academic career, I have held many leadership roles within the School of Nursing and Midwifery, UCC. These have included Director of the BSc Undergraduate Education Programme, co-ordinator of Technology Enhanced Learning and Programme Coordinator of the Postgraduate Diploma in Gerontological Nursing Programme.
My research experiences translates across: working part of research teams on HRB/HSE funded projects and my research interests pertain to older adults, obesity, academic integrity and use of online technology.