Three Brightwater staff members were awarded scholarships at the 2021 Brightwater Annual General Meeting. We recently spoke with them to get an update on where their projects were at.
About the scholarships
The Don Hutchison and Peter Lane Scholarships will help the three recipients to conduct a project or research study that creates opportunities to improve the quality of life for our clients.
The Don Hutchison Scholarship is in honour of a former Brightwater Chair. Don Hutchison served 25 years on the Brightwater Board, with his final 13 spent as Chair. The Don Hutchison Scholarship was established in 2001 to honour his outstanding achievement. The purpose of the Don Hutchinson Scholarship is to provide a means of financial support to staff members who wish to conduct a project or research study, or further their learning in an area which will contribute to the quality of life opportunities for Brightwater clients.
2021/22 Don Hutchison Scholarship
The 2021/22 Don Hutchison Scholarship was awarded to Brightwater at Home (BAH) General Manager Jenni Gamble, for her project titled ‘Preventing, recognising and managing depression in old adults living at home – a service model for BAH’.
Jenni said her project provided an enormous opportunity to improve the lives of Brightwater at Homes clients.
“Depression is often not well recognised or detected and impacts both physically and mentally reducing a person’s quality of life. It can manifest differently and its symptoms are often incorrectly attributed to age.
“Symptoms such as sadness, sleep, loss of appetite and mood changes are often dismissed and explained as a ‘normal’ part of getting older. Poor concentration and memory difficulties associated with depression may also be confused with other conditions such as dementia. However, there is no evidence that ageing itself is a risk factor for depression later in life.
“We have now employed a clinician who will help develop the model for a service focussed on the early detection of clients with depression.
“It is my hope this will ensure we can implement a preventative program that will help our clients and it is also an opportunity to expand our Brightwater at Home service offerings in a very important area.”
2021/22 Peter Lane Scholarship
The Peter Lane Scholarship was established in 2008 through a donation from the Lane family in memory of their son, Peter. Peter had an acquired neurological disability and lived in the Brightwater community until 2004. Throughout Peter’s time with Brightwater, his family campaigned for increased expertise in the area of neurological disability. There were two Peter Lane Scholarships awarded for 2021/22. These went to Angela Leitch, Speech Pathologist and Thila Raja, Rehabilitation Coordinator, who are both located at Oats Street.
Angela’s project titled ‘Oral Health: It is more important than you realise’ aims to improve the oral health care of clients with an acquired brain injury.
The aim of Angela’s project is to increase the knowledge and skills of staff and residents at Oats Street through an oral health education program.
Angela said work on her project had commenced with a review of the literature to identify oral care best practice, including interviews with members of the dental profession.
“So far, we have conducted surveys and qualitative observations to help determine what support our residents are getting when it comes to oral care practices and if there are any barriers that affect the provision of oral care.”
Before developing and implementing the education program, Angela said the next steps are to conduct a thematic analysis to identify any gaps in the oral care practices.
The overall aim of Thila’s project titled, ‘Efficacy of dance movement therapy in acquired brain injuries’ is to improve client’s quality of life through dance and movement.
Thila will achieve this through the development of a 12-week dance movement therapy group.
Holding a Masters in Dance from the University of Melbourne, Thila is passionate about incorporating dance therapy into her work with her clients at Oats Street.
Unfortunately, Thila’s project was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but she is hoping she will be able to commence it in the coming months.
“My plan is to have the group participate in weekly sessions to target specific areas of function, modified according to their dynamics and skill set,” Thila said.