The clinic conducts research on various topics related to mental health and older adults. Our research is supported by industry contracts, government grants, scholarships and philanthropy funding.

Elders AT Ease program (ELATE)

Delivering a blue print for mental health services in residential aged care

By 2031, 25% of Australians will be aged 65 or older. Mental conditions, such as depression and anxiety disorders, are prevalent in this age group, particularly for those living in residential aged care settings.

We are not prepared for addressing the high prevalence of mental health conditions amongst those living in residential aged care. Currently, there are inadequate systems for identifying, assessing and treating residents living with poor mental health conditions. There are very few psychologists, social workers and counsellors who are trained to deliver specialist mental health treatments to this population of our elders.

The ELATE program examines the effectiveness of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and reminiscence techniques for reducing depression, anxiety and suicide in residential aged care settings. Funded by the National Medical and Research Council, this study involves more than 50 residential aged care facilities in Victoria.

The program involves a systemic treatment approach involving residents, their family members and facility staff. Postgraduate students provide one to one psychological services to residents. In addition, family members and facility staff are upskilled and supported to better identify and manage depression and anxiety symptoms in residents.

The study provides an immediate accessible service to residents. It addresses the need to improve the training of aged care staff in recognising and responding to mental health care needs of the resident. It also addresses the need to involve families in meaning ways to assist their relatives living in residential care.

This study will help us understand the health, personal and economic outcomes of CBT-reminiscence therapy for our elders living in residential aged care settings, and will provide a blue print for a mental health service delivery within such settings.

Chief Investigators
  • Professor Sunil Bhar, Swinburne University of Technology
  • Doctor Tanya Davison, Swinburne University of Technology
  • Professor Penelope Schofield, Swinburne University of Technology
  • Doctor Stephen Quinn, Swinburne University of Technology
  • Professor Julie Ratcliffe, Flinders University
Research team
  • Dr Joanna Waloszek, Research Fellow PhD, Research Project Manager
  • Rebecca Collins, Aged Care Specialist, Study Coordinator, External Relations
  • Mark Silver, Social Worker, Treatment Coordinator (Counselling services)
  • Deborah Koder, Clinical Psychologist, Clinical Research Supervisor
  • Jenny Linossier, Aged Care Specialist, Treatment Coordinator (Staff and family services)

For more information please contact our team:

If you would like to complete a supervised student placement with us on this project please contact Mark Silver ( More information about our placement opportunities can be found here.

The Impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of aged care residents and staff

We would like to invite aged care facility managers, clinical care coordinators and lifestyle team leaders to participate in an important survey on the impact of COVID-19 on aged care residents and staff.

The purpose of this study is to understand how COVID-19 has impacted the mental health of residents and staff and what mental health support you would like to be provided. Findings from this study will assist the policy makers in Australia understanding of how COVID-19 has impacted mental health and what support should be provided.

Together we will be able to best support the mental health of aged care residents and staff in response to this virus.

To participate, or for more information, see:

Student projects

Students are provided opportunities to conduct research, write commentaries, review the literature and report on case studies for publication in peer reviewed journals. Students sometimes work in teams under the mentorship of experienced academics and clinicians. Some student based projects are undertaken to fulfil the requirements of honours, masters or doctoral research. If you are interested in participating in any of these projects, or would like to make queries, please contact the student researcher. 

The following projects are in need of participants:

The role of music in reminiscence therapy

This study will investigate the effects of including music in reminiscence for improving late life wellbeing. We are interested in how and why music can be used in reminiscence therapy to improve the wellbeing of older people who are experiencing stress, anxiety or depression. We hope the findings of this study may help us to improve wellbeing programs in such individuals.
We are seeking older adults (65 years and over) who are experiencing stress, anxiety or depression, and have no diagnosis of dementia or major cognitive impairment, who are fluent in English. 

If you choose to participate, you will be asked to 
(a) complete a brief telephone interview, and (b) attend a two-hour session at Swinburne University of Technology or in your place of residence to 

  • (i) complete questionnaires 
  • (ii) participate in a brief session while we record your brain activity through a non-invasive Electroencephalogram (EEG)
  • (iii) have a brief interview.

Participants will receive: $30 compensation for time and travel. To register your interest, or make queries, please contact Romy Engelbrecht on or 0451 534 360.


For research related enquiries please contact:

Professor Sunil Bhar
+61 3 9214 8371