In summary

  • Professor Sunil Bhar is leading a national consortium of researchers to study the mental health impacts of COVID-19 in aged care
  • The study will be conducted via an online survey, which will be open for four weeks
  • Findings will help policy makers better understand the mental health impacts of COVID-19 in aged care and inform decisions about the type of support services that are needed

A national consortium of researchers led by co-director of Swinburne’s Wellbeing Clinic for Older Adults, Professor Sunil Bhar is conducting a study to understand the mental health impacts of COVID-19 on aged care residents and staff.

COVID-19 and residential aged care

The effects of COVID-19 has been devastating for those in residential aged care. As of 13 September, there have been nearly 2,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Australian residential aged care and 599 deaths.

“We anticipate that the COVID-19 situation has resulted in increased feelings of fear, loneliness and isolation among residents and aged care workers,” says Professor Bhar.

Professor Bhar is also the Director of the National Telehealth Counselling Service for Aged Care, a free telehealth service launched in response to COVID-19

“Reports from frontline staff in aged care have found that they have experienced negative mental health impacts. As such, we need to know what mental health support has already been provided to aged care residents and staff, and more importantly, what support is still needed,” he adds.

The study, which includes Mental Health Australia, the National Australian Research Institute, Queensland University and Macquarie University will be conducted via an online survey, which will be open for four weeks. The study will also explore which factors related to COVID-19 are having the greatest mental health impacts on aged care residents and staff, as well as what mental health support is needed.

“The findings of this study will help policy makers better understand how COVID-19 has affected the mental health of residential aged care staff and inform decisions about the type of support services that are needed,’ says PhD candidate and member of the research team, Aida Brydon.

Individuals working in residential aged care as facility managers, clinical care coordinators and lifestyle team leaders are invited to participate in the survey. To participate or for more information, visit the survey website.

Caring for older Australians

Swinburne’s Wellbeing Clinic for Older Adults is a confidential counselling and support service for older adults living in residential and community settings developed in 2011. In May, the clinic introduced a free telehealth service to provide ongoing emotional support for aged care residents, staff, and their families. The clinic also provides mental health training for aged care professionals and conducts research to better understand the psychology of ageing.

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