Making the move to aged care

Research into mental health during the transition to residential aged care

Uniting AgeWell’s Hawthorn Community and Latrobe Community, Strathdevon will be part of a research project focussed on improving the mental health of people transitioning into aged care.

Uniting AgeWell’s Research Committee recently approved our organisation’s participation in the project. We are now one of two industry partners in the five-year project led by Charles Sturt University researchers into a study entitled “Improving the mental health of Older Australians Navigating the Transition to Residential Aged Care (ON-TRAC) Project.”

Uniting AgeWell supported an application by the University’s research group which was recently awarded a prestigious Public Health Grant of $600,000 by the Ian Potter Foundation.

Director Strategy and Innovation Nina Bowes says the key areas of mental health to be addressed in the research are depression and anxiety, with the aim of reducing the impact of these conditions through a co-designed, evidence-informed psychological intervention.

“This is an amazing opportunity to work with experts from leading universities to co-design and implement a program to help our residents have the best possible experience when they move into residential aged care,” says Nina.

Projects Coordinator, Research and Innovation Teresa Soderlund says the study involves examining the transition to aged care in outer regional, inner regional and metropolitan settings.

Strathdevon in North West Tasmania makes up the outer regional study site, while Hawthorn is the metropolitan research site. The inner regional component will be undertaken by the project’s aged care partner based in NSW.

A total of 15 older people who are either making the transition to residential aged care, are actively transitioning or who are within three months of a recent transition will be participating – five from each study site. Care staff and family carers of residents can also participate.

Teresa says the project will be co-designed, co-produced, trialled, evaluated and implemented in collaboration with older Australians, informal carers, industry care providers and researchers. The first phase of the research will run for two to three years, and will rely on analysis of data collected from people participating in the project towards helping to build a new fit-for-purpose psychological intervention i.e. the tool. The second phase is the evaluation of the tool, with feedback to tweak any changes that are needed.

Uniting AgeWell has a proud history of advocating for and participating in cutting-edge research aimed at improving the quality of aged care in Australia.

This is reflected in Uniting AgeWell’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Framework, which outlines the approach and measures the organisation is taking to support the mental health and wellbeing of its customers and staff.

This year, it is rolling out its mental health education and training program to around 4,000 staff, enabling them to build mental health awareness and resilience and is actively involved in presenting the 2024 National Mental Health Webinar Series in partnership with Latrobe University to improve the mental health of older people more broadly.You can read more about our approach to mental health and wellbeing.

Read our Mental Health and Wellbeing Framework