The availability of psychological services for aged care residents in Australia: a survey of facility staff

Stargatt, Jennifer, Bhar, Sunil S., Davison, Tanya E., Pachana, Nancy A., Mitchell, Leander, Koder, Deborah, Hunter, Carol, Doyle, Colleen, Wells, Yvonne, and Helmes, Edward (2017) The availability of psychological services for aged care residents in Australia: a survey of facility staff. Australian Psychologist, 52 (6). pp. 406-413.

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Objective: Rates of depression and anxiety are high among older adults in residential aged care facilities (RACFs). This study examined the extent to which psychological services are made available to facility residents in Australia, and investigated barriers to accessing such services.

Method: The sample consisted of 90 senior staff from a random sample of RACFs. Participants completed self-report questionnaires regarding their perspectives on the availability of psychological services and potential barriers to access psychological services.

Results: Access to psychological services was poor. Psychologists were employed at a rate only one third that of other providers of mental health services. Residents were rarely referred to psychologists or to psychological treatments. The most important barriers to access, as perceived by participants, were the low availability of psychologists specialising in treating older adults, lack of government funding for such access, and limited staff training in detecting depression and anxiety.

Conclusion: Access to psychologists and psychological services remains poor in Australian residential aged care settings. Such access may be improved by developing a workforce of clinical geropsychologists, improving funding mechanisms for residents to access psychological services, and addressing staff knowledge about depression and anxiety.

Item ID: 51757
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1742-9544
Keywords: aged care, geropsychology, mental health, older adults, residential care, psychological treatment
Date Deposited: 13 Dec 2017 07:30
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4203 Health services and systems > 420301 Aged health care @ 40%
52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5201 Applied and developmental psychology > 520106 Psychology of ageing @ 60%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9202 Health and Support Services > 920209 Mental Health Services @ 50%
92 HEALTH > 9205 Specific Population Health (excl. Indigenous Health) > 920502 Health Related to Ageing @ 50%
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