Health

Mental health services interrupted in elderly care; need for improved access: report

While residents in aged care are more likely to experience mental health problems compared to the general population, not many use government subsidies for mental health care.

This is according to new analysis from Flinders University and the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), which calls for organizational and policy changes to improve access.

“Elderly care residents are four times more likely to be depressed and nine times more likely to have anxiety disorders compared to the general population of older Australians,” said lead author Dr Monica Cations, a psychology registrar and epidemiologist at Flinders University’s College of Education, Psychology and Social Work and Affiliated Senior Postdoctoral Researcher with the Registry of Senior Australians at SAHMRI.

“Despite this, less than 3% of residents with a mental health condition in our cohort have access to funding subsidies for mental health services provided by GPs, psychiatrists, or allied health professionals, as opposed to nearly 10% of the general population.”

The study analyzed data from the Registry of Senior Australians across all non-Indian people living in 2851 Australian aged care facilities between 2012 and 2017, and found minimal increase in access across various categories in those five years.

The share of residents accessing psychiatric services for primary care was only 2.4% in 2016/17, and only 2.3% accessing psychiatric services.

“Difficulties in accessing psychiatric services were particularly pronounced for people with dementia, who were less likely than people without dementia to access any of the services other than psychiatric services,” Cations said.

“The under-identification and lack of non-pharmacological treatment of mental illness among people with dementia is a long documented problem, partly explained by a widespread belief that people with dementia cannot benefit from non-pharmacological therapies.

“Mental health care is a pillar of Australia’s publicly funded health care system and the low use of publicly funded services among those living in aged care is indicative of major barriers to access to and admission to care,” Cations said.

“These barriers, many of which were raised in submission to the Royal Commission on Quality and Safety for Elderly Care, include a lack of expertise among staff, complex mental health care and qualification requirements, transport costs and low priority given to mental health needs. “unless it was likely to disrupt care or necessitate care for residents and staff.”

While the authors acknowledge that residents have received potential mental health services in ways not included in the dataset (such as those working through the facility), people living in aged care deserve equal access to public services .

The Royal Commission made several recommendations regarding mental health services in its final report, but work is needed to implement them. The authors recommend a permanent broadening of qualification criteria for Medicare access, initiatives to train and deploy mental health professionals in elderly care services, the improvement of existing staff, clearer referral paths and the ongoing oversight of quality and ongoing investment programs. .

“Appropriate treatment and management of psychological needs can have far-reaching benefits, including improved liveability for residents, reduced staff turnover and reduced behavioral disorders and related costs,” Cations said.

“Our study indicates that there is a need for significant and sustained changes in organizational, policy, and funding to improve access to mental health care for elderly care residents.”

Image Credit: © stock.adobe.com/au/phonlamaiphoto

Mental health services interrupted in elderly care; need for improved access: report

Source link Mental health services interrupted in elderly care; need for improved access: report

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