Counties-Manukau’s Dr Lina Groenewald is the recipient of the prestigious Health Delivery Research Career Development Award and has chosen to focus her research on a topic close to her heart - 'Describing care pathways for patients with delirium discharged from hospital'.
Working as an old age psychiatrist in the community, Dr Groenewald has significant experience with patients diagnosed with delirium - confusion due to a medical condition which can last for months after the condition has been treated - and wanted to do something more to help them.
“It's an exciting opportunity to do research that could have an immense benefit in improving the care patients suffering from delirium receive,” says Dr Groenewald.
"It can be a terrifying experience for patients and family members, so eventually, I'd like to improve the support provided for these patients and their whaanau."
This condition is prevalent in elderly patients, with about 40% of patients older than 65 becoming delirious when admitted to hospital with another medical condition.
It's also a preventable cause of dementia.
"The more episodes of delirium you have, the more likely you are to develop dementia so, we need to prevent subsequent episodes and good follow-up care can help do that.
"At the moment, we discharge these patients into the care of their families while they often still have significant memory problems.”
Dr Lina noticed that many family members had to stop working or looking after their children to support their elderly relatives.
“It's difficult for patients to navigate living alone or with their families while they still have severe cognitive impairment.”
She says it’s a privilege to serve such a culturally diverse population, specifically the elderly in our community.
“They have enriching life experiences and wisdom to share with the younger generation, and I will continue doing whatever I can to serve our kaumatua and improve their quality of life.”