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PACFA collaborating on project on Mental Health Work with Seniors

PACFA is collaborating with Fronditha Care who are developing a new training program for the aged care sector aimed at equipping carers with the skills needed to support older people with their mental health. The project has the support of the Department of Education and Training.

Ageing is characterised by many losses (losing friends or family, independence, mobility, sight, hearing, cognition and life roles such work and parenting) as well as loneliness, co-morbidities, and mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. There is also the very significant issue of polypharmacy with many older people using multiple medications including medications for their mental health. The issues faced by older people are exacerbated by lack of access to appropriate counselling services and general avoidance of mental health support due to the stigma associated with mental illness.

Care workers are trusted by seniors and they may be able to do more to support older people with their mental health, both in the community and in or in residential care settings. Training in mental health and counselling skills for care workers has been identified as a way to meet the growing need for support for older people with their mental health and wellbeing.

The Mental Health Work with Seniors Project will encourage conversations on mental health amongst seniors, improve referrals to counsellors, delay institutionalisation (both in in hospitals or residential care), reduce hospital transfers and polypharmacy, and improve the mental health of senior members of the community. The project could also have a significant impact on the structure of the aged care workforce in order to respond to the growth in the sector as the population ages.

PACFA looks forward to this opportunity to engage with Fronditha Care to help improve access to counselling support for seniors.

Expressions of Interest

PACFA is calling for expressions of interest from counsellors and psychotherapists who currently work with older Australians, either in the community or in residential care settings. There will be opportunities for practitioners who work with older clients to be consulted on the design of the new training package and also, potentially, the design of future counselling services for the aged care sector.

To express interest in the Mental Health Work with Seniors Project, please email admin@pacfa.org.au.