Author: Carl Aiau

This is Elaine’s Story (SUPER Trial)

Elaine joined the Staying UPright and Eating well Research (SUPER) study because she thought it would provide her with learning opportunities as well as a chance to meet people. She was randomized into the social programme.

However, events transpired against her – Elaine was hit by a car near her home when she was crossing the road – resulting in a ten week stay in hospital recovering from multiple fractures and a head injury. Following discharge, she underwent a considerable period of recuperation and rehabilitation at home.

Fortuitously, Elaine’s recovery support team and family were discussing with her further options to help when “My daughter reminded me about the SUPER study, I had completely forgotten about it”.

Elaine was able to rejoin the social group in hopes of getting her, as she said, “back to normal”. When asked her thoughts about the social programme, Elaine said “it was fun, I loved meeting the people and it was interesting hearing what they’d done with their lives”.

Overall, as Elaine said of her experience of the study and the social programme in particular, “it’s provided me with a good way to be back in the world”.

Read the full story about Elaine and her SUPER Study experience here.

For more information about the research, please visit our SUPER Study page or visit the study’s Facebook page.

Filed under: Press, Research

This is John’s Story (SUPER Trial)

John was randomised into the food and nutrition course in the Staying UPright and Eating well Research (SUPER) study. Prior to taking part in the programme, John’s experience of cooking was limited.

John said he found Senior Chef “enjoyable and I think whatever you’re doing, if you’re not enjoying it you don’t want to go next week. Right from the beginning it was produced and developed in a way that made you want to learn.

So what changes have occurred? John said he’s now preparing meals and usually cooking two or three times a week. Shopping at his local butcher he’s now noticed there’s a variety of chicken cuts… “so I ask them well if I bought that type of cut, what vegetables would I put with it? It’s opened up a whole new world for me”.

He also said Senior Chef has given him better insight into what his wife has done over many years: the planning and shopping let alone the preparation that goes into daily meals. And of course, the nutritional aspect is also important and now armed with the information, meals can be planned to take all of this into consideration.

“I guess I can say that all the information, all that I’ve learned at Senior Chef is in my head now and it’s not going to go away”.

Read the full story about John’s SUPER Study experience here.

For more information about the research, please visit our SUPER Study page or visit the study’s Facebook page.

Filed under: Press, Research

Ageing Well researchers meet

meetingOn Tuesday, 26 May researchers met to hear updates on Challenge progress and plans for the contestable funding round (due to be announced by the end of 2015).

The half day meeting, held in Wellington, included presentations from Professor Dave Baxter and Dr Robin Olds. The meeting then held small group discussions about the contestable funding round, planning for the National Colloquium and information sharing and engagement.

Ageing Well Introductory Presentation by Dr Robin Olds (PDF 970KB)

Ageing Well Researchers Update Presentation by Professor Dave Baxter (PDF 2.5MB)

Filed under: Events

Ageing Well first National Colloquium

familyWellington will host the first Ageing Well National Science Challenge Colloquium on Friday 14 August 2015. This will be an open meeting for researchers and stakeholders over one full day.

The timetable will include opportunities for research projects to be presented, and for networking between researchers and stakeholders. Further details will be posted as soon as they are available.

The event will be held at Te Papa.

Register for the Ageing Well National Colloquium

Filed under: Events

Ageing well the focus for National Science Challenge

From left: Professor Jim Metson, Chief Science Adviser for MBIE; Professor Peter Crampton, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Health Sciences); Hon Steven Joyce, Science and Innovation Minister; Professor Richard Blaikie, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise); and Professor David Baxter, Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Health Sciences). Photo: Sharron Bennett.

Researchers from across New Zealand are joining forces for the latest National Science Challenge called Ageing Well – Kia eke kairangi ki te taikaumātuatanga.

The National Science Challenges, initiated through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, are designed to tackle New Zealand’s biggest science-based issues and challenges.

The Ageing Well challenge is to be led through its establishment phase by Professor David Baxter, Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Health Sciences and Dean of the School of Physiotherapy at the University of Otago, and will be administered out of the School’s Centre for Health, Activity and Rehabilitation Research. It will be partnered by other New Zealand universities including Auckland, Massey, AUT, Waikato, Canterbury, and Victoria, as well as AgResearch and the Centre for Research, Evaluation and Social Assessment (CRESA) in Wellington.

“We are delighted to be at the forefront of this innovative and important National Science Challenge that we hope will ultimately benefit the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders through adding life to years,” says Professor Baxter.

Funding of up to $14.6 million to June 2019 has been approved subject to contract conditions.

The Challenge will support high-quality, mission-led, interdisciplinary research focussed on five key strands:

  • Enabling independence and autonomy/tino rangatiratanga of older individuals and their whānau and families
  • Ensuring a meaningful life through social integration and engagement
  • Recognising at a societal level the value of ongoing contributions of knowledge and experience of older people
  • Reducing disability, and
  • Developing age-friendly environments.

Professor Richard Blaikie, Otago’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) and co-Chair of the oversight group for the Challenge, emphasises the need for strong inter-institutional collaboration to achieve the Challenge’s 10-year mission.

“If we are going to realise the longevity dividend from having a healthy, independent and socially-connected aged population in Aotearoa then we must have the best minds from the research community and aged care sector working together on the most pressing research questions, finding practical solutions that can be applied in clinical or community settings” he says.

“No single institution has all the expertise or end-user connections that are needed, and Otago is very proud to be taking the lead in coordinating the national effort in this particular Challenge”.

Professor Baxter says people are living longer now, with life expectancy in New Zealand having gone up by around 20 years since 1901, pushing life expectancy for men into the late 70s and women to the low 80s.

“In addition, the share of the total population that is at older ages is increasing. This ‘structural ageing’ is mainly due to declining birth rates and in about a decade people aged 65 and over will exceed the number of children under 15 years of age for the first time in New Zealand’s history.”

While Māori and Pacific peoples are still a youthful population in structural terms, the gap to non-Māori in terms of life expectancy is closing, lifting the proportion of older people across the board.

Professor Baxter says this means that issues related to the health and wellbeing of older people will become more prominent in the lives of families and communities.

“Over coming decades, the number of people with degenerative conditions such as dementia, arthritis, cerebrovascular disease and frailty will increase significantly. Furthermore, growing numbers of older people experiencing social isolation, reduced economic participation, and increasing vulnerability to poverty and sub-optimal living conditions will pose additional challenges.”

Research conducted by the Ageing Well Challenge will focus on these trends, identifying ways to delay the onset and reduce the impact of these conditions.

“We will work with stakeholders on ways to enable health, wellbeing and contributions of older people, right into the later years of life.”

For further information, contact

Professor David Baxter
Dean of the School of Physiotherapy
University of Otago
Tel 64 3 479 7411
Email or

Filed under: Funding, Office