Dr Joan Ostaszkiewicz



Honorary Fellow


Faculty of Health


School of Nursing & Midwifery


Off-Campus (Home)


Graduate Certificate of Higher Ed. Learning & Teaching, Deakin University, 2016
Doctor of Philosophy, Deakin University, 2013
Master of Nursing Research, University of Melbourne, 2004



Dr Ostaszkiewicz is a Registered Nurse and a Research Fellow in the Centre for Quality and Patient Safety Research- Barwon Health Partnership. Joan contributes to leading innovative clinical and translational research that makes a difference to older people, particularly those with dementia and who are dependent on a carer. Her research is aligned with national and international priorities for research that have a positive impact on communities and directly impacts the quality, safety and experience of health care. 

Read more on Joan's profile

Biography summary

Joan's research interests span three core areas: (i) establishing an evidence base for the care of older people; (ii) supporting the nursing and carer workforce to provide evidence-based care, and (ii) developing, implementing and evaluating evidence-based resources.

Joan has experience managing large scale, multi-site research projects, working with multidisciplinary teams, and conducting research using qualitative and quantitative approaches.

As a nurse and a researcher, Joan is particularly interested in how values, beliefs and fears about old age, incontinence, disability, and dementia, impact on the care of older people. Her PhD study resulted in a Grounded theory that describes and explains factors influencing the management of incontinence in aged care facilities.

Recently, Joan developed 'The Dignity in Continence Care' framework that aims to support nurses and care workers in their efforts to identify and meet the continence care needs of individuals with complex health conditions who depend on another person for assistance to manage incontinence or to maintain continence. The framework is underpinned by two core concepts: (i) dignity and (ii) care, and is characterised by a focus on: empathic continence care; personhood in dementia; therapeutic communication; authentic partnership in continence care; acknowledging stigma, social taboos and courtesy stigma; and the need for a foundational continence assessment.

Joan is widely published and her research includes Cochrane systematic reviews, guidelines, continence assessment and management tools, and models of care for aged care. She has worked across a range of health settings, including acute and sub-acute care settings, the aged care sector, and community care, in nurse consultant and case management roles.

Research interests

Dr Ostaszkiewicz has a background in research and quality improvement on issues related to the care of the older person. Her research output includes over four million dollars in research funding, 40 peer review publications, five book chapters, and over 50 national and international presentations. She has contributed to securing research funds that have resulted in resources to promote evidence-based nursing care for older people, including: (i) The Tri-Focal Model of Care, (ii) Guidelines for the nursing assessment and management of urinary retention in elderly hospitalised patients, and a suite of Continence Assessment and Management Tools for residential aged care. Dr Ostaszkiewicz has conducted research to establish:

  • A framework to promote dignity in continence care for people who are care dependent
  • A theoretical model of the association between elder abuse, incontinence and care dependence
  • A grounded theory about providing continence care in aged care facilities
  • The prevalence and management of incontinence in acute and subacute settings
  • The association between constipation and lower urinary tract symptoms
  • Residents’ perspectives on living with incontinence
  • Carers’ perspectives of respite care
  • The quality of continence care in Australian aged care facilities
  • The presence of incomplete bladder emptying in frail older adults
  • A clinical nursing leadership model for enhancing continence care for older adults in a sub-acute inpatient care setting.

Her international research has resulted in information about current practices related to the use and reuse of catheters for intermittent catheterisation and catheter bags for long-term use; a role profile of a Nurse Continence Specialist, two meta-analyses about bladder training and voiding programmes for the management of urinary incontinence, and a systematic review about urinary bag decontamination for long-term use.


Dr Ostaszkiewicz is am Honorary Fellow at the National Institute on Ageing, and is a founding member of the Victorian Branch of the Continence Foundation of Australia and the Continence Nurses Society of Australia. She chairs the International Continence Society Nursing Research Sub-committee and is on the editorial committee for the Australian & New Zealand Continence Journal and the Cochrane Incontinence Review Group. 

Teaching interests

Dr Ostaszkiewicz co supervises Honours, Masters and PhD students in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Deakin University and teaches in the undergraduate programme in units about the care of the older person, and research methods. She also has experience in mentoring in a Massive Open Online Course. 

Knowledge areas

Aged care, dementia, incontinence, evidence based practice, systematic reviews, Grounded theory methods, systematic review methods, critical appraisal, and the translation of research into practice


Cottenden A, Fader M, Chatterton C, Conrath P, Engqvist H, Eustice S, Hakan L, Newman D, Ostaszkiewicz J, Palmer M, Wilson T, & Haylen B. Standardisation of terminology for incontinence products. 47th International Continence Society Scientific Meeting. 12-15th September 2017. Florence, Italy.

Thompson J, Ostaszkiewicz J & Watt E. (2017). Practice Standards for Nurse Continence Specialists. [Poster]. 26th National Conference on Incontinence. 15-18th November 2017. Sydney.

Ostaszkiewicz J, Hutchinson A, Tomlinson E. (2016). Cleaning, containing and concealing incontinence in residential aged care facilities: Staff members’ constructions of quality continence care. [Podium presentation]. 25th National Conference on Incontinence. 9-12th November 2016, Adelaide

Ostaszkiewicz J., Hutchinson A., Cull E. (2016). Understanding what constitutes quality continence care for people living in long-term aged care facilities. [Podium presentation]. 46th International Continence Society Scientific Meeting. 13-16th September 2016, Tokyo. Available from: https://youtu.be/-8yrCREq5Q8

Ostaszkiewicz J., Eustice S., Roe B, Thomas L, Islam T, O’Connell B, Cody J, Omar I. (2016). ‘Variation in toileting assistance programmes terminology: A possible solution’. [E-Poster]. 46th International Continence Society Scientific Meeting. 13-16th September 2016, Tokyo.

Ostaszkiewicz, J. [Chair], Palmer, MH., Roe, B., Eustice, S., Talley, K. (2015). Promoting an evidence-based approach to quality continence care for frail older adults. [Workshop]. 45th Annual Meeting of the International Continence Society. 6-9th October, 2015. Montreal, Canada

Thompson, J., Paterson, J., Ostaszkiewicz, J., Watt, E., St John, W. (2015). Continence Nursing Clinical Practice Standards: What they mean and how to use them. [Workshop]. 24th National Conference on Incontinence. Continence Foundation of Australia. 25-28th Nov, 2015. Melbourne. Australia

Ostaszkiewicz, J. [Chair], Palmer, MH. (2015). Continence promotion in residential aged care facilities. [Workshop]. 24th National Conference on Incontinence. Continence Foundation of Australia. 25-28th Nov, 2015. Melbourne. Australia

Ostaszkiewicz J., Ottmann G., Isaacs R., Hutchinson A. (2015). Quality Continence Care in residential aged care facilities: What should we measure? 24th National Conference on Incontinence. Continence Foundation of Australia. 25-28th Nov, 2015. Melbourne. Australia

Ostaszkiewicz, J., O’Connell, B., Lakhan, P., Hawkins, M. (2014). Challenges of Caring for Residents with Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia. [Podium presentation]. 47th Australian Association of Gerontology National Conference, 26-28 November 2014, Adelaide Oval, Adelaide, Australia

Ostaszkiewicz, J., O’Connell, B. & Dunning, T. (2014). Providing continence care in long-term aged care facilities: Findings from a grounded theory study. [Poster Podium Presentation] 44th Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Continence Society (ICS). Rio de Janeiro, 20-24 October, 2014. Brazil

Ostaszkiewicz, J., O’Connell, B., Dunning, T. (2014). The unintended effects of the regulatory framework on continence care in Australian residential aged care facilities. 23rd National Conference on Incontinence. 10-13th Sep, 2014, Cairns, Australia

Ostaszkiewicz, J. (2014). Empowering nurses to promote continence and manage incontinence across the lifespan. (Invited speaker). 5th Global Forum on Incontinence, 8-9 Apr 2014, Madrid, Spain

Ostaszkiewicz, J. (2014). Dignifying 'dirty' work': Providing continence care in residential aged care facilities. [Invited speaker]. Every Body’s Business – Aged Care and Incontinence. Continence Foundation of Australia. 21st Mar 2014, Melbourne, Australia


Dr Ostaszkiewicz is the recipient of a number of awards including the Continence Nurses Society Australia (Vic-Tas Branch) 2017 Research Award, the Incontinence Products Promotional Group Nurse Scholarship 2016 (Vic-Tas branch), an Australian Postgraduate Award, the 2008 American Nurses Journal Book of the Year Award in the category of research, the 2012 Royal College of Nursing Aged Care Myrtle Ivy Quicke Memorial Grant, the 2010 Australian Nursing Federation Gerontology Scholarship, and the 2008 Nurses Memorial Centre Scholarship.