Nearly half the people living in residential aged care present significant symptoms of depression but routine screening and access to appropriate services are lacking.
To address this concern, Swinburne University Associate Professor Sunil Bhar was recently awarded just under $1 million from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) to lead an aged care mental health support trial.
Over seven years, Bhar has led the development and pilot-testing of a model of mental health service delivery known as ELATE: Elders at Ease Program.
Under ELATE, counsellors, staff and family carers collaborate to provide tailored psychological interventions to residents living with symptoms of depression, anxiety or suicidal thoughts.
“It has been found to be clinically feasible and highly acceptable to residents and staff and can enhance the present system of care,” Bhar said.
The new funding will enable the team to test the clinical and economic impact of the program on depression and associated psychological conditions.
It formed part of a $5 million funding package from the government and beyondblue to help address mental illness among older Australians.
beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman said the mental health of older Australians was too often forgotten.
“We can’t forget about the mental health and wellbeing of generations who have contributed so much to our communities,” Harman said.
The Swinburne team said ELATE will provide an immediate and accessible service to residents, with a focus on improving the training of aged care staff in recognising and responding to the mental health care needs of residents and involving families in meaningful ways to assist their relatives.
It will also provide placements for students in clinical geropsychology to boost the delivery of services.Do you have an idea for a story?
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