The PAW study, funded by the Jack Brockhoff Foundation involved an eight-week, volunteer-led behavioural activation programme, designed to improve the well-being of aged care residents.

NARI, in partnership with the University of Melbourne and Benetas, conducted specialist training sessions for volunteers, who were then partnered with residents for an 8 week program of engagement in enjoyable activities. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected from residents and volunteers at baseline, eight-weeks and three months. For residents, participation was associated with a large, statistically significant reduction in depressive symptoms. There were also trends towards reduced anxiety and increased positive well-being. Improvements in volunteer well-being and staff satisfaction were also indicated. Findings support the use of behavioural activation in residential aged care.

The study and its results are detailed in Bryant, C., Brown, L., Polacsek, M. et al. Volunteer-led behavioural activation to reduce depression in residential care: a feasibility study. Pilot Feasibility Studies 6, 95 (2020).

Contact: Briony Dow