$600,000 Grant to Enhance Mental Health in Transition to Residential Aged Care

Mental Health, Transitioning to Aged Care -

$600,000 Grant to Enhance Mental Health in Transition to Residential Aged Care

$600,000 Grant to Enhance Mental Health in Transition to 

Residential Aged Care

An innovative project led by scholars at Charles Sturt University has secured a substantial $600,000 grant with the aim of improving the mental well-being of individuals undergoing the transition to residential aged care.

The distinguished Ageing Well in Rural and Regional Australia Research Group at Charles Sturt has been granted $600,000 by The Ian Potter Foundation to support their creative project, titled "Enhancing the Mental Health of Older Australians Navigating the Transition to Residential Aged Care" (ON-TRAC). This initiative is planned to extend over a period of five years.

Recently awarded the Public Health Grant from The Ian Potter Foundation, the Research Group, headed by Associate Professor Melissa Nott, Professor Suzanne McLaren, Associate Professor Belinda Cash, and Post-Doctoral Research Fellow Dr. Shanna Fealy, operates within Charles Sturt's Three Rivers Department of Rural Health and Schools of Psychology and Social Work and Arts.

Dr. Fealy highlighted the unique aspect of the project, pointing to direct collaborations with stakeholders in the aged care sector, such as Uniting AgeWell in Victoria and Tasmania, and St Agnes Care and Lifestyle in Port Macquarie. Collaborations also encompass researchers from the National Ageing Research Institute and Federation University, ensuring a thorough and effective evaluation and implementation of the project.

The grant not only underscores the importance of their work but also presents a valuable opportunity to showcase Charles Sturt University's commitment to advancing the mental health of older Australians undergoing the significant transition from home living to permanent residential aged care.

The ON-TRAC project, intended to be collaboratively developed, tested, assessed, and implemented over five years in partnership with older Australians, informal carers, industry care providers, and researchers, addresses crucial mental health areas, particularly depression and anxiety. The objective is to mitigate these conditions through evidence-informed psychological interventions.

Dr. Fealy emphasised the pressing need for a comprehensive transformation of the aged care sector, given the challenges outlined in the recent findings of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. With depression rates notably high at 52% in older adults in residential aged care facilities compared to 10-15% in community-dwelling older adults, addressing mental health during this critical transition phase could yield a lasting positive impact.

The grant, amounting to $120,000 annually over five years, contributes to a funding pool of $1,674,333, which includes matched funds from the Ageing Well in Rural and Regional Australia Research Group, Charles Sturt's central research funds, and in-kind contributions from Charles Sturt and its partners.

Mr. Charles Goode AC, Chairman of The Ian Potter Foundation, expressed satisfaction in supporting the research project, emphasising its focus on prevention, strong collaborations with consumers, industry partners, and research institutions, and the urgent need to tackle high rates of depression among individuals transitioning to residential aged care.

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