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Education

TEP module incorporating COVID-19 focus

From the next academic year, undergraduate students from any discipline across College can take the new TEP module offered by Medical Gerontology “How to live long and prosper, a lifespan approach”. This TEP module is being updated to include a focus on COVID-19. This will be applicable across the three broad teaching areas: the (i) biological, (ii) clinical and (iii) societal challenges and opportunities presented by our increasing older population. This new focus within the module on COVID-19 will be highly relevant to current events, and of great interest to the student body.

COVID-19 and DOMG Frailty module

In the community and all care settings, people living with frailty are more vulnerable to severe COVID-19 infection and worse health outcomes. In the past 10 years, new ageing science has provided important insights into how frailty develops and how to delay its onset and even reverse it. Early identification of frailty and interventions based on exercise, nutrition, social engagement, health education and timely geriatric assessment are key, and more important than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. Academics and Clinicians in the DOMG offer a comprehensive, standalone educational module on frailty which will be available externally and will also deliver free educational content and lectures for all frontline staff.

Research

TILDA reports to assist planning of COVID-19 response

The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing has refocused its work to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, expediting analysis of its Wave 5 data (collected 2018). The reports demonstrate the value of an established longitudinal dataset for informing planning and delivery of health and social policy. These include analyses of the contributions to social, economic and family life of the over 70s in Ireland; risk factors associated with COVID-19 among Ireland’s older adults, such as comorbidities, chronic conditions and medication usage; the demographics of frailty in Ireland; and older adults’ rates of health and community service utilisation. TILDA is a recognised evidence source for COVID-19 response in Ireland on McMaster University’s Global Guide to COVID-19 evidence sources.

TILDA vitamin D research A TILDA report on vitamin D documents the clinical evidence for the vitamin D’s role in helping combat respiratory tract infections, the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in Ireland and possible implications for COVID-19. The report received extensive coverage in national and international media, and led to international collaboration on further research. An editorial published in the Journal of Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics reported on variations in mortality rates related to vitamin D deficiency at different latitudes globally, and the potential role of vitamin D deficiency in the severity of COVID-19 infections. Professor Rose Anne Kenny took part on 23rd April in the Springer Healthcare Webinar entitled ‘Vitamin D in Times of COVID’, and was a co-signatory of a response letter in the British Medical Journal examining ‘Is ethnicity linked to incidence or outcomes of COVID-19?’

Long Room Hub Talk

Trinity Long Room Hub is hosting a five-week, online series of discussions under the title: ‘Rethinking Democracy in an Age of Pandemic’. The series runs from 29th April until 27th May 2020. Professor Rose Anne Kenny will speak at a session on May 6th which will focus on ‘Marginalised Groups’.

Health Research Board COVID-19 funding awards

The Health Research Board’s rapid response call for funding projects related to COVID-19 saw two awards go to teams led by TILDA researchers. A project led by Nollaig Bourke will examine the “who” and “why” of COVID-19 in older people in Ireland. We will investigate who was infected in the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) by measuring virus specific antibody levels and explore what risk factors are associated with disease, including analysis of how the immune system is activated in these individuals.

A second project led by Rose Anne Kenny and Mark Ward will examine how measures introduced as a result of COVID-19 have particularly impacted on the lives of people over 70, investigating impacts on mental and physical health, and seeking the voice and views of those most affected to better understand and manage the pandemic’s collateral damage.

Clinical

Mercer’s Institute for Successful Ageing COVID-19 measures

· A COVID-19 ward, a new, 20-bed facility in MISA, provides specialist Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment for older people with COVID-19 illness.

· A post-COVID rehabilitation ward for older COVID-19 patients helps accelerate their inpatient rehabilitation and discharge from hospital.

· Robert Mayne Day hospital serves as an ‘interface hub’ providing rapid access to medical and multidisciplinary therapy assessments for older patients discharged from the inpatient wards.

· A new community geriatrician service plans and delivers services in the community.

· Many medical lecturers/researchers have temporarily moved to clinical contracts to work on the front lines

MISA virtual consultation and nursing homes support

· Virtual Geriatric Medicine clinics have started, with about 600 virtual consultations so far performed.

· Saint James’s Hospital is operating telephone triage for new patients

· All interactions are recorded as part of Electronic Patient Record, with a letter to the GP

· The ‘Frailty Phone’ led Dr Rory Nee is a mobile phone service for Consultant Geriatricians to take calls from GP’s and nursing homes.

· Dedicated Memory Clinic remote sessions are now starting

· Private nursing homes have been put in contact with agency and private hospitals for supply of staff, to avoid unnecessary transfer of residents to the emergency department

· A Psychological First Aid service has been promoted to our residential staff

Tallaght University Hospital COVID-ECHO lecture series

The COVID-ECHO lecture series is a Zoom software-delivered collaboration between the Geriatricians in Tallaght University Hospital and Palliative Care staff in Our Lady's Hospice. Our aim is to reach out to nursing home staff, update them about ever changing guidelines and field their many practical questions. So far six sessions have been delivered with emphasis on Zoom-facilitated open forum Q and A. Between 300 and 600 nurses, managers and general practitioners dial in each week and feedback has been excellent.