Central and Eastern Sydney PHN (CESPHN) has commissioned three current Psychological Support Services (PSS) provider organisations to deliver individual and group psychological treatment services to the community of central and eastern Sydney to residents of 17 aged care facilities in the region.
The three provider organisations will engage mental health clinicians experienced in working with older people to deliver both individual and group sessions in local aged care facilities.
They will also work with residential aged care facility staff to increase staff awareness of mental health issues and the services available to their residents.
CESPHN undertakes regular community needs assessments to identify health needs of the central and eastern Sydney region, and spot any gaps in available services.
A recent needs assessment identified that although many older people experience good mental health, they are at greater risk of anxiety and depression, especially when there is coexisting physical illness: dementia, disability, or difficult life experiences.
More than half of permanent aged care residents in Australia had symptoms of depression, as did 45 per cent of those who were admitted to residential aged care for the first time.
Consultation also identified that older people in aged care facilities lack access to psychologists, are disadvantaged because there is a lack of financial incentive to provide visits to RACFs and because of issues with the provision of training for RACF staff, and may be socially isolated.
This service is CESPHN’s first endeavour to meet the mental health needs of residents in aged care facilities. Further services will be rolled out over the next three years as CESPHN continues to learn from residents, their families and carers, GPs, aged care staff, Older Mental Health and ACAT teams to determine the most effective models of care to address local needs.
The organisation’s goals are to see mood improvements, reductions in anxiety and stress, increased ability to cope with life changes, and an increase in social connection and participation in social activities.
As part of the launch of the program, CESPHN is providing upskilling opportunities for mental health clinicians around geriatric psychology, assessment and treatment, and has also funded Older People’s Mental Health First Aid training opportunities for staff working at residential aged care facilities.
The providers are Victorian Primary Mental Health Alliance, Lilly Pilly Counselling and Sydney MindCare. It is funded by the Australian Government under the PHN Program.