Project to improve aged care transition among 18 grant winners

A University of Newcastle trial aimed at reducing depression among new aged care residents is one of 18 projects to receive a Medical Research Future Fund grant.

University of Newcastle researchers are trialling a three-part support and training program aimed at reducing depression among older people who have recently transitioned from their home into residential aged care.  

Dr Michelle Kelly – a clinical psychologist and senior lecturer in the School of Psychological Sciences at University of Newcastle – has been awarded $200,000 over 12 months from the Medical Research Future Fund to evaluate the program’s effectiveness at reducing and preventing symptoms of depression in new residents.

Dr Michelle Kelly

“The two most commonly observed difficulties in the first six months by the residents we see are depression and adjustment disorder,” Dr Kelly told Australian Ageing Agenda.

The trial is taking place at a Calvary aged care facility in Newcastle. The three-part program consists of:

  • a support program for the resident to help them adjust to the change and thrive
  • a support program for their family or other support person
  • a training program for staff to support them in enabling the resident to make personal choices, and help enable them to identify if a resident is struggling with mental health.

“While we know these three programs work independently, we want to see if we can get them embedded as part of normal care in an aged care facility,” Dr Kelly said.

“We will try to work out how many residents and their families are interested in receiving this support program, how many complete the program, and whether they find the program helpful. We will also look at whether staff feel better equipped to support residents following the training.”

The team will evaluate the impact of the program to guide a national rollout, Dr Kelly said.

18 grants announced this week

Dr Kelly’s is one of 18 grants worth $25 million in total provided through the MRFF for dementia, ageing and aged care research announced by Minister for Aged Care Anika Wells this week.

The projects aim to extend older Australians’ healthy, active, years of life including through, as previously reported, transforming medication safety, reducing abuse and depression, and boosting activity.

“We need to have ambition for aged care and research is critical to advancing the sector,” Ms Wells said. “These research projects have the potential to provide real, on-the-ground benefits to our older Australians, and usher in a new era of aged care.

“It is crucial our best and brightest minds are helping advance the tools the aged care industry can use to provide better environments and resources for older Australians.”

Provider peak body Aged & Community Care Providers Association welcomed the grants, with CEO Tom Symondson saying the potentially life-changing benefits of research and innovation to help older people live healthy and active lives cannot be underestimated.

Tom Symondson

“Australians are living longer and well beyond their retirement years and research to support innovation and understanding of how we can improve the lives of older people is crucial,” Mr Symondson said in a statement.

“Research to better understand dementia is critical as it will improve the lives of those older people who will need support either at home or in residential care at some time in their lives.”

Reducing falls among CALD seniors

Among other grant recipients, researchers at the University of Melbourne have received $200,000 to co-design an exercise and falls prevention program with older people from three culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and evaluate the program in 630 older people from CALD backgrounds.          

Helping GPs to help senior drivers

A University of Queensland project has been awarded $1.3 million to deliver an online driver safety assessment and management package to general practitioners to empower them to begin a driving conversation early, assess confidently and encourage their patients to plan early for eventual driving cessation.

Improving care quality

University of South Australia has been awarded almost $3 million for an Australian Consortium for Aged Care project called the Quality Measurement Toolbox (ACAC-QMET), which aims to improve quality of care through better measurement and evaluation. ACAC will define what constitutes high-quality care and the tools needed to monitor this across care settings and generate the best quality evidence to inform the key components needed to provide high-quality, person-centred care.

Dementia prevention and treatment

A University of Sydney project has been awarded almost $2 million to test whether a public health-seeking campaign plus a primary care practice change program increase dementia diagnosis and boost support after diagnosis.

Researchers at Edith Cowan University have received just over half-a-million dollars to undertake a clinical trial to determine if a novel, low-cost behaviour change program will motivate an individual to make healthy lifestyle changes and improve measures of risk for dementia, cardiovascular disease and falls.  

A Deakin University project has secured just over $1 million to conduct research into the Brain Health Journey app use and influence on help-seeking, knowledge and beliefs about dementia and facilitating a timely dementia diagnosis.

Another Monash University project has received $200,000 for a program that provides education to residents, staff and families to address dementia stigma and uses blood tests and digital cognitive assessments to indicate which residents need a referral to specialists for a formal dementia diagnosis.

Monash University researchers have also received just over $1 million to work with people with dementia, their care partners and service providers to develop and test resources and strategies to improve access to treatments that will assist people living with dementia maintain independence and wellbeing in the community for as long as possible.     

Health access and improvement projects

Elsewhere, Monash University researchers have also received $200,000, in their case to measure major environmental risk factors to evaluate their health impacts in older Australians, and to develop, evaluate and implement intervention strategies to mitigate the adverse effects.

University of Queensland researchers have picked up nearly $5 million for Frailty KIT – an Australian Frailty Network to Create Knowledge, Implement Findings and Support Training. The study will compare ways to support older people to participate in frailty programs to inform national implementation and form a frailty network to oversee this and coordinate future work.

Researchers at the University of Queensland have been awarded just over $2 million for the Unspoken, Unheard, Unmet project, which aims to improve access to preventative health care. It involves co-designing and evaluating the “Better Conversations” program of resources and training to support important conversations about aged care.

A Torrens University Australia project has been awarded almost $600,000 for a project called IMPAACT – IMproving the PArticipation of older Australians in policy decision-making on Ageing-related CondiTions. Together with older people, the researchers will conduct a process to incorporate older people’s views into screening for ageing-related conditions and provide recommendations on how screening should be offered.

Researchers at James Cook University have won $1.2 million to undertake a randomised controlled trial to test the efficacy of a cheap repurposed medication – MEtformin – in treating blocked leg arteries.         

Other successful grants

As previously reported, other projects funded in this round include:

  • University of Melbourne researcher and National Ageing Research Institute director of social gerontology Professor Bianca Brijnath has been awarded over $1.5 million for the No More Shame project
  • University of Melbourne and NARI researcher Professor Pazit Levinger secured $2 million for the ENJOY Seniors Exercise Park IMP-ACT project – IMProving older people’s health through physical ACTivity
  • Professor Johanna Westbrook – director of the Centre for Health Systems and Safety Research at the Australian Institute of Health Innovation at Macquarie University – has received $992,000 to lead a project demonstrating how sophisticated and user-friendly IT systems can improve medication management and support aged care staff and residents
  • Monash University researchers have been awarded almost $2 million for a project with Silverchain called EMBED – the enhanced management of home-based elders, which  involves a randomised trial of a tailored, integrated model of care to reduce symptoms of depression in home aged care recipients.    

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Tags: ACCPA, anika wells, featured, Medical Research Future Fund, Michelle Kelly, Tom Symondson,

3 thoughts on “Project to improve aged care transition among 18 grant winners

  1. Having worked in aged care, problem I found extra jobs carers are made to do leave no time.for residents.
    You need carers for showering etc meals then other carers for cleaning etc
    Also more dedicated.staff who love older people.

  2. As wonderful as some of these ideas sound, just like the recent Aged Care Commission , nothing changes in Aged Care. Home Care packages are impossible to access, institutions are run with bare bones food, care and staffing ratios along with inappropriate activities that are more like kindergarten. It’s all based on getting the most funding and giving the least care.

  3. We applied for a grant to study the inverse relationship between the size of the grant and usefulness of the research topic.
    We were unsuccessful.

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