Meet a Calvary Researcher

Dr Jodie Ellis (PhD)

Calvary Health Care Kogarah

Jodie Ellis is the Head of Department for Dietetics, Speech Pathology and Psychology at Calvary Health Care Kogarah, she obtained her PhD in Palliative Nutrition from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Sydney in 2018. Her professional training includes – Nutrition and Dietetics, psychology, business management and fitness. Clinically, Jodie has worked as an accredited practicing dietitian for over 20 years with the areas covered including – palliative care, aged care, rehabilitation and developmental disability.

Jodie has undertaken research in numerous clinical areas and is passionate about uncovering the evidence in palliative care nutrition. Her research includes both qualitative and quantitative studies with her current study investigating nutrition impact symptoms and their effect on oral intake at the end of life. Jodie has also investigated the lived experience of patients, carers and health professionals around food and nutrition at the end of life along with the meaning of food at this time.

Nikki Johnston

Calvary Public Hospital Bruce

Nikki Johnston is a palliative care nurse practitioner who works at Clare Holland House, Calvary Public Hospital Bruce in Canberra. Her current role involves integrating specialist palliative care practice into residential aged care.

Although her role is predominantly clinical, Nikki works with a research team who have been recognised internationally for their research approach. Their method has led to a decreased length in the duration of resident hospitalisations and an increased instance of older people living in nursing homes dying in their preferred place. Their research project also won a Category Award and was the overall winner of the Quality in Health Care Awards ACT.

The approach was also found to assist staff in normalizing death and dying, while providing essential anticipatory prescribing and better decision-making leading to planned care for residents.  The team is currently undertaking a randomized control trial using ‘stepped wedge’ methodology. Nikki is also a guest lecturer at the University of Canberra and the Australian Catholic University, She is also a nurse mentor.

Dr Fiona Runacres

Calvary Health Care Bethlehem

Dr. Fiona Runacres has worked at Calvary Health Care Bethlehem as a palliative care specialist since 2014. Whilst undertaking her palliative care training at Bethlehem, she became interested in the role of restorative care, and the interface between palliative care and rehabilitation. A retrospective audit published in 2015 examined outcomes for patients admitted to Bethlehem for restorative care and resulted in the creation of the Maintenance and Independence Unit at Calvary Health Care Bethlehem.

Fiona subsequently undertook a research fellowship and lead a qualitative study examining palliative care physicians’ perspectives of the role of rehabilitation in palliative care. These findings have been presented at various national and international palliative care conferences.

Fiona is currently collaborating with researchers and clinicians from Calvary Health Care Bethlehem, Monash Health and Deakin University to investigate the role of specialist palliative care in subacute rehabilitation and geriatric care settings. Future research plans to examine models of Geriatricians involvement in palliative care, and how generalist and specialist provision of palliative care in this setting can be optimised.