Home | Specialty Focus | Help for aged care depression rate of 53% with new project
A project aiming to improve mental health in aged cares has been given the greenlight.

Help for aged care depression rate of 53% with new project

A Charles Sturt University project has secured a grant of $600,000 to help improve the mental health of people transitioning to residential aged care.

The project, Improving the Mental Health of Older Australians Navigating the Transition to Residential Aged Care (ON-TRAC), will be co-designed, co-produced, trialled, and evaluated in collaboration with older Australians, informal carers, industry care providers, and researchers over five years.

One of the researchers Dr Shanna Fealy said the project is unique because of its direct partnerships with stakeholders in the aged care industry.

"We're working with United AgeWell in Victoria and Tasmania, and St Agnes Care and Lifestyle in Port Macquarie, as well as researchers from the National Ageing Research Insititute and Federation University so that the project is evaluated and implemented effectively," she said.

"The grant not only recognises the importance of our work but also presents an invaluable opportunity to showcase CSU's commitment to advancing the mental health of older Australians."

Mental illness is more common among particular groups of older Australians, such as people living in residential aged care, people with dementia, and people in hospitals.

As of 2019, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that 87 per cent of residents in aged care facilities were diagnosed with at least one mental health or behavioural condition.

Forty-nine per cent had a diagnosis of depression.

Dr Fealy said the key areas of mental health ON-TRAC would address were depression and anxiety – aiming to reduce these conditions through evidence-informed psychological intervention.

"The aged care sector is confronted with immense challenges, necessitating a comprehensive transformation of its framework, which was outlined in the recent findings of the Royal Commission," Dr Fealy said.

"With the incidence of depression in older adults in residential aged care facilities alarmingly high at 52 per cent, compared to community-dwelling older adults at 10 to 15 per cent, and anxiety disorders often co-occurring, improving the mental health of older Australians during this critical transition phase may have a long-lasting positive impact well beyond the project’s five-year duration."

The Ian Potter Foundation will be providing a grant totalling $120,000, which will be spread over five years.

Chairperson of the Foundation Charles Good said they were pleased to support the project.

"The project is led by an early career researcher, embedded within the newly established multi-disciplinary Ageing Well Research Group at Charles Sturt University which aims to protect the mental well-being of ageing Australians as they transition into residential aged care,” Mr Goode said.

“The high rates of depression in this group make this a pressing need.

"Focused on prevention, the research project is based on strong collaborations with consumers, industry partners and research institutions.”

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One comment

  1. Since being widowed, I have taken up volunteering to talk to residents of a nearby Aged Care Residential facility. The thing that struck me most was the institutionalized design of the facility. This may make it easier on the staff but has a severe impact on the Mental Health of the residents. The rooms are very small and have an attached en-suite but there is no room for a table, no access to an out door area or balcony unless you walk through the facility. It it as if we keep our elderly in boxes. If you want the mental health of people to improve,give them some space. Perhaps one day those who designed those rooms will have to live out their days in one of them.

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