Collaboration develops a truly holistic approach to aged care

The University of Wollongong and IRT have joined forces to launch the Illawarra Teaching Research Aged Care Service (ITRACS). This collaboration, funded by the Department of Health and Ageing, is a two-year project to enhance teaching, learning and research into aged care right here in the Illawarra.

The fundamental component of ITRACS is developing a holistic approach to elder care that is practical. Supporters say this is what will allow UOW and IRT to pull together threads to make a significant contribution to aged care residents who are at the centre of this collaboration.

With viable aims of opening up career pathways for students and staff, fostering joint research and establishing a learning community of staff, residents and researchers, ITRACS will draw on the strengths of both UOW and IRT.

Director of the NSW/ACT Dementia Training Study Centre, Professor Richard Fleming, is leading the ITRACS project, with over 30 years of experience in the aged care industry. He talked about the notion of holistic care and how in many cases it was not a reality in aged care facilities.

“And this is what ITRACS will address,” he said.

Professor Fleming talked about the establishment of a learning community, which would pull together the experience, expertise and fresh thinking of UOW students and staff, as well as IRT staff and residents.

He said this community would be about “intergenerational learning and sharing which was not commonplace”.

Input from a range of disciplines including nursing, psychology, nutrition, dietetics, and exercise science would ensure the holistic approach to care becomes a reality.

ITRACS Project Manager, Dr Gillian Stillfried, said this was “a fantastic opportunity for students from several disciplines to use their knowledge and work together with each other and IRT staff, with the ultimate goal of improved quality of life for residents”.

The combination of staff, student and resident input makes ITRACS a special program and with the support of UOW, IRT and the Department of Health and Ageing, it is set to have a real impact on skills, attitudes and application of aged care.

By Kim Twist


  • Pictured left to right: Dr Gillian Stillfried (UOW), Craig Hamer (IRT), Barbara Squires (IRT), Associate Professor Angela Brown (UOW), Tania Tsiamis (IRT College), Professor Richard Fleming (UOW), Katie Davies (IRT), Angela Douglas (UOW) and Craig Smith (IRT).