An innovative model of mental health care for older people has received a $2 million grant from the Medical Research Future Fund, with the research to be led by Silverchain and Monash University. 

Silverchain, Australia’s leading in-home complete health and aged care provider, will implement and evaluate the new model of care to identify and treat older people with depression living independently at home. 

The first of its kind in Australia, the ‘enhanced management of home-based elders’ – or EMBED model – is an innovative and sustainable model of care that aims to facilitate early detection and use of evidence-based treatment of depression in older Australians who receive aged care in their home.

Lead Investigator Dr Tanya Davison, Silverchain’s Director of Research Discovery and Adjunct Associate Professor at Monash University, has established a world-class aged mental health research collaboration that includes 15 of Australia’s premier clinical researchers from seven universities to address the growing problem of depression in aged care. 

Silverchain’s Executive Director Research and Innovation Dr Anna Barker said mobility issues, life losses, and social isolation can mean many older people are not as engaged in the community and are at higher risk of depression.

“Receiving aged care services at home provides real choice for people who want to retain their own agency and independence, but we must ensure as a sector we are attuned to every need, not just physical or social support,” Dr Barker said.

“There is a lack of access for our aged care in the home clients to effective treatments for depression. There is a stigma in our older communities about mental health treatment, and the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety supported better support and care models for older people.

“Our research will evaluate the new EMBED model that is expected to reduce symptoms of depression, address stigma and enable older Australians to access evidence-based, tailored treatment at home.”

Silverchain’s Chief Executive Dale Fisher said Silverchain is taking a proactive approach to developing innovative models of home care that will address service gaps across the health and aged care sectors. 

“With one million Australians receiving aged care at home and the accelerating demand from the community to age at home, there is a rapidly growing public health opportunity for Australia to be a world leader in home care,” Ms Fisher said.

“The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety highlighted the challenges in mental health care for older Australians. 

“Older Australians with depression, particularly those living in rural and remote areas, have poor access to mental health services and few receive nonpharmacological treatments. 

“To address this gap, our industry-academic partnership developed an innovative model of care to improve the detection and treatment of depression in older Australians receiving care in the home. This translational research will also examine the dual stigma of mental health and ageing that are real barriers to effective care.”