Media Release:  Working together to support healthy ageing in Melbourne’s east and north-east

Media Release: Working together to support healthy ageing in Melbourne’s east and north-east

16 July, 2020

A new mental health service developed to support healthy ageing will start in September 2020 for older persons in north-eastern and eastern Melbourne.  

The Healthy Ageing Service Response is funded by Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network (EMPHN) and delivered by Eastern Health in partnership with St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne.  

The Healthy Ageing Service Response aims to address the mental health and wellbeing, and broader health and social needs, of individuals aged over 65 years, with, or at risk of, mild to moderate mental health issues. 

EMPHN CEO Janine Wilson said the service will work with older peoples’ existing care and support networks, such as their family, GP and other professionals, in Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACFs) or to support them to remain in their homes within the community.  

“‘Whole of person’ needs will be considered, including alcohol and other drugs (AOD), suicide prevention, psychosocial support, housing, physical health needs, and their impact on the mental health and wellbeing of older people.” 

With the older persons population in the EMPHN catchment projected to increase by 50 per cent over the next 13 years¹, EMPHN identified a need to provide a more tailored response to people in the community with mental health concerns aged 65 years and older, or over 55 years and older for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people. 

Data suggests that around 10 per cent of older Australians have depression or anxiety ¹ and more than 50 per cent living in aged care facilities have either or both disorders. 

General practice data² from EMPHN’s community found 18 to 26 percent of adults older than 65 years have visited their GP for mental health concerns. 

The service is aligned to a stepped care approach, tailoring treatment intervention to individual need.  

The Healthy Ageing Service Response will deliver primary consultations or brief interventions for older people, together with their families, delivered as part of a coordinated care team with General Practitioners (GPs), general practice staff and/or RACFs staff. GPs, general practice staff and RACF staff will also have access to telephone/telehealth-based advice and referral and navigation support, and capacity building activities, such as education and training, to enable them to better support the older people they work with. 

The service will be delivered by mental health clinicians (such as psychologists, mental health nurses, social workers and occupational therapists), psychiatrists, psychiatric registrars and/or psycho-geriatricians, and a lived experience workforce. 

Eastern Health Program Director, Mental Health, Lisa Shaw-Stuart, said “Eastern Health are delighted to be collaborating with St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne to deliver the Healthy Ageing Service Response.  This is a great initiative that will support General Practices and RACFs and provide collaborative care to people aged over 65 years (or 55+ for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders) who are living in our community.” 

The service response was developed following a rigorous co-design process with consumers, carers, clinicians, service providers, RACFs staff, peak bodies, and other key stakeholders. 


Media enquiries:   Claire James   0425 887 397 

About EMPHN: Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network is primarily funded by the Australian Government to improve the care and support people receive from health services. We aim to improve the health of our community by ensuring people receive the right care, in the right place, at the right time.   

¹ EMPHN Older persons’ needs assessment 2019 

² Population Level Analysis & Reporting (POLAR GP) data tool