Apr 30, 2024

Breaking Barriers: The Push to Provide Psychological Support in Aged Care

Breaking Barriers: The Push to Provide Psychological Support in Aged Care
Meeting the criteria for needing a mental health care plan can be quite hard for an elderly person, but it shuldn't have to be. [Shutterstock].

In the realm of aged care, where the complexities of aging intersect with the challenges of mental health, innovative solutions are essential. Sharelle Rowe, CEO of Eva Tilley, a Residential Aged Care provider, is pioneering a groundbreaking approach to improve the psychological well-being of its residents in need.

In a recent conversation with Sharelle Rowe, she shared insights into their partnership with Swinburne University’s Older Adult Clinic and the strides they’ve made in enhancing the mental health support offered to residents.

“We’ve got a strong partnership with Swinburne who runs the ‘Wellbeing Clinic for Older Adults” from Swinburne University in Hawthorn,” Rowe explained. This collaboration extends beyond mere research endeavors; it’s about practical application and tangible outcomes.

Rowe emphasized the need for tailored psychological support in aged care, particularly during transitions into care and amid the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reflecting on the obstacles faced by elderly residents in accessing mental health plans, Rowe highlighted the lack of accessibility and the stringent criteria for qualification.

“It may sound simple, but in reality, getting an elderly person off to the doctor can be very difficult. The criteria for needing a mental health care plan can also be quite hard for an elderly person,” she remarked.

The conversation shed light on the structural barriers within the aged care sector that hinder access to essential psychological support. Rowe underscored the importance of empowering residents to seek help while acknowledging the inherent challenges.

“This is a cohort that won’t put their hands up for help either. No, they’re prideful,” she noted.

Despite these challenges, Eva Tilley is making significant strides in bridging the gap. Through their partnership with Swinburne, they’ve facilitated greater access to psychological support for residents.

“We’ve got greater access for our resident group now simply because of some of the partnership forming that we’ve been doing,” Rowe explained.

This access extends to innovative therapeutic approaches, including poetry writing sessions and digital storytelling, aimed at fostering self-expression and emotional well-being.

Eva tilley
A resident from Eva Tilley explores his creative side. [Supplied].

One notable success has been the high demand for psychological support services within the aged care home.

“We’ve currently got a psychologist student with us on placement here. And that means that she can run multiple sessions per week, and I believe it is full,” Rowe shared. 

This overwhelming response underscores the efficacy of tailored mental health interventions within aged care settings.

Rowe also highlighted the transformative impact of creative engagement therapies, such as art and music therapy, in fostering self-expression and cognitive stimulation among residents.

“You see people singing, whom may struggle to with verbalisation, but all of a sudden, they’ll tap along and sing to something,” she remarked.

Aged care providers are known for their resourcefulness and Eva Tilley is no exception – pointing to collaborations with universities and other free initiatives as a way to improve and grow as care providers. 

Through her commitment to sourcing collaborative partnerships and breaking down barriers, Sharelle Rowe is blazing a trail in aged care to ensure that every resident’s psychological well-being is prioritized and supported, whilst acknowledging the hard work the well-being team and broader teams do everyday for the residents.

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