Deakin IMPACT, Tara.

e-Health for Older Adults.  e-Health technology has been thrust into our lives this year, and many of us have learned to adapt and embrace the opportunity of contacting our doctors online from home.  But what of our more elderly community members?  How are they faring when it comes to using technology for their health care?  This is Occupational Therapist Tara Johnson’s current research focus.

Deakin Tara

Tara is a PhD Student at Deakin University, and Student Liaison for the Community And Research Network (CARN) at IMPACT (The Institute for Mental and Physical Health and Clinical Translation).  Her PhD project focuses on the barriers and enablers for older adults to use health technology or ‘e-Health’.

“Older adults are a varied population group and often face additional barriers to health technology use, such as those associated with chronic conditions. The project aims to further build a better understanding of the factors associated with older adults’ health technology needs, so that technology developers can better target these needs, and healthcare providers can better assist older adults to use the technologies.  This has been an important topic of late, with many health care providers now offering online services to meet physical restrictions currently in place, including health professional appointments and gyms.”

Tara was first introduced to Occupational Therapy when her grandparents received therapy post stroke.  Seeing first-hand how occupational therapy can have a large impact on an individual’s life through engagement in activities that they desire, inspired Tara’s career. She has since worked as an Occupational Therapist with a variety of people, including her current position in aged care.

Tara thrives when helping others build their skills and achieve their goals, so has followed this passion into research hoping to help numerous people, not just those she sees on a daily basis.  (Although she fondly recalls the gratitude of an older adult who required help logging back into Skype to speak to her daughter overseas!)

“My PhD project is still in its early stages in relation to data collection, however working alongside a dedicated research team, both locally and internationally, has been truly inspirational. I anticipate having some initial findings in the coming months.”

In the meantime, Tara reminds health care providers to consider the unique needs of patients when implementing technology into their services.  We look forward to seeing the impact of her research in the future, and thank Tara for her care, her expertise, and for sharing this timely reminder:

“Reach out to the older adults in your life and check in to see how they are managing in these changing times.”

Story: Sarah Treacy. Photo: Simon Boyd