Faculty of Health, Arts and Design

Health and Ageing Research Group

Program to enhance adjustment to residential living (PEARL)

An NHMRC project grant

Many older adults and their families find the transition to aged care extremely difficult, and older people living in an aged care facility typically report a poorer quality of life, compared to older people in the community. Mental health problems are common, with half of all newly admitted residents experiencing substantial symptoms of depression.

New approaches to address the burden of depression are required, particularly targeting residents in their first six months of institutional care, which is known to be a period of critical risk.

We have developed a simple psychological intervention to help new residents to adjust to life in aged care. The Program to Enhance Adjustment to Residential Living (PEARL) focuses on key aspects of psychological wellbeing, and is designed for widespread use in aged care. We will evaluate the intervention to determine if it is superior to current care approaches in reducing depression and improving quality of life.

Developmental theory and research by our team have identified that autonomy, environmental mastery, social relations, and meaningful activities day to day are central to preventing depression in aged care and to assist older adults to adjust to institutional care. Our innovative program enhances these protective factors among newly admitted residents, and so addresses the problem of high rates of depression.

This simple intervention is suitable for the majority of older people, including those with mild-moderate dementia. The program involves collaboration with staff members to ensure that the care they provide meets residents’ psychological needs, and provides training for staff in delivering this person-centred care approach. The program is brief and can be embedded within existing aged care procedures, recognising that interventions will prove feasible only if demands are kept manageable.

Investigators

  • Associate Professor Tanya Davison | Swinburne University of Technology
  • Dr Lucy Busija | Monash University
  • Professor Marita McCabe | Swinburne University of Technology
  • Professor Daniel O’Connor | Monash University
  • Dr Takemi Sugiyama | Australian Catholic University

Research team

  • Dr Vera Camoes Soares De Costa | Research Fellow PhD, Project Coordinator
  • Anastasia Konis | Provisional Psychologist PostGradDip(Psych), Research Assistant
  • Priscilla Marietta | Psychologist MPsych (EdDev), Research Assistant
  • Julie McGibbon | Research Assistant
  • Jacqueline Noble | Provisional Psychologist PostGradDip(Psych), Research Assistant
  • Lauren Pigdon | Provisional Psychologist PostGradDip(Psych), Research Assistant
  • Fiona Lynch | Research Assistant
  • Sofie Dunkerly | Research Assistant
  • Mayio Konidaris-Kozirakis | Research Assistant
PEARL team from left to right: Julie McGibbon, Lauren Pigdon, Jacqueline Noble, Anastasia Konis, Fiona Lynch, Marita McCabe, Sofie Dunkerley, Mayio Konidaris-Kozirakis, Vera Camoes Soares Da Costa, Priscilla Marietta, Tanya Davison.
PEARL team from left to right: Julie McGibbon, Lauren Pigdon, Jacqueline Noble, Anastasia Konis, Fiona Lynch, Marita McCabe, Sofie Dunkerley, Mayio Konidaris-Kozirakis, Vera Camoes Soares Da Costa, Priscilla Marietta, Tanya Davison.