CEO Update: Looking after our ageing loved ones


On Wednesday this week I had the opportunity to give evidence to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

As a peak body, such an important opportunity provides our team and Mental Health Australia with a clear lens to look at how our broader mental health advocacy work can be applied to a specific group, in this case older Australians living in aged care.

At the center of our evidence and discussion with the Commissioners, was the idea that the person themselves needs to drive their own care.

They need to be at the centre, and if partners, family and carers are included in the planning and delivery of that care from the start, it will have huge benefits for early intervention and prevention of the high rates of mental ill health in residents living in aged care settings.

The idea that understanding and recognizing the signs of mental ill health is a big part of it, but also understanding the basis and foundation of wellbeing, including social connections, reduced isolation, exercise, nutrition and more.

Sadly, we also know there are high levels of depression and anxiety amongst those living in residential aged care, which is why we emphasized to the Commissioners the need for greater training of staff to understand the impact for many people of transitioning to aged care, and to identify residents who might need additional mental health care. Of course we also underlined the urgent need for improved access for residents to specialist psychological treatments services from credentialed mental health providers including peer workers.

Unfortunately the transition to residential aged care can be associated with loss of autonomy, social connections, and personal identity – which significantly impacts subjective wellbeing. The way in which residential care services are delivered can either worsen or mitigate this sense of loss and associated costs to wellbeing, which is why we stressed the importance of trauma-informed care.

Aged care providers should understand and respond to the impact of trauma that many residents experience – emphasizing physical, psychological and emotional safety and supporting a sense of empowerment for the individual.

We also highlighted that of course there is a strong association between physical health and mental wellbeing, particularly with older people, and the role GPs play in an integrated assessment is central.

In addition we talked about how important it was to understand the needs of partners, family, and carers to help with prevention and intervention, and supporting their loved one through this phase of their life.

When it comes to carers and family members, we know the transition into aged care can take its toll on the individual but also those around them, and research tells us that people who are in a caring role are 40 percent more likely to struggle with their own mental health as a consequence of their caring role, and often less likely to seek help themselves.

This can be compounded by the impact of transition into an aged care residential setting, where the difficulties of seeing their loved one go into care can present many challenges for family and carers. 

With this in mind we stressed the idea that in planning for the care of the individual, the needs of the family and carers are also investigated and understood as part of the support services, because the care and love for a family member doesn’t stop once someone enters aged care.

The deadline for public submissions to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety is 31 July 2020 and you can following the hearings via the website. You can read the full transcript and statements here.

Have a good weekend, 

Leanne Beagley
CEO

Our Interim Chair Robyn Kruk recently noted the departure of a valuable Director with the resignation of Ms Robyn Hunter, who provided important expertise from the psychosocial delivery area. 

The Board considered candidates from this membership area who had nominated for the past two election rounds. We are pleased to be able to congratulate Flourish CEO Mark Orr who has been officially appointed to the Board to fill a casual vacancy until the 2020 Annual General Meeting. 

A registered psychologist, Mark is well known to many of you I’m sure, and has worked extensively in disability services and guardianship, as well as championing HIV prevention, care and support, and LGBTI health care and rights for decades. We look forward to working more closely with Mark over the coming months.


This Monday I’ll be attending a National CALD Disability Information project meeting with Harry Lovelock and Ruth Das from our Embrace Multicultural Mental Health Project.

On Tuesday I’ll be taking part in an Australian Bureau of Statistics mental health study linkage project consultation workshop and meeting with the Queensland Productivity Commission regarding their NDIS project.

On Wednesday, as with much of my week I will be continuing to meet and talk with CEOs of our member organisations about their work and their aspirations for Mental Health Australia going forward.

On Thursday I’ll be attending a National Disability & Carers Alliance Meeting in the morning and participating in the National Peak Bodies Bushfire Recovery Coordination Forum. In the afternoon I will chair a National Mental Health Workforce Strategy working group meeting on Rural and Remote Mental Health.
 
While on Friday I’ll be taking part in the Safety and Quality Safety and Partnership Standing Committee, and later the Fifth National Mental Health Workforce Strategy Taskforce Meeting in the afternoon.

The Framework for Mental Health in Multicultural Australia (the Framework) is a free, nationally available online resource which allows organisations and individual practitioners to evaluate and enhance their cultural responsiveness. It has been mapped against national standards to help you meet your existing requirements, with access to a wide range of support and resources. 

We are pleased to invite you to the third of a four-part webinar series in August 2020. The webinar will provide an in-depth look into Service Module 3 of the Framework: Working Together to Promote Mental Health in Multicultural Communities. This module explores effective engagement with multicultural communities and stakeholders, in addition to mental health promotion and suicide prevention in a multicultural context.

Details:

  • When: Wednesday 5 August 2020
  • VIC, NSW, ACT, TAS & QLD: 2:00 pm
  • SA & NT: 1:30 pm
  • WA: 12:00 pm

Register here

The National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2019: in brief is a companion report to the National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2019 report. It presents the key findings from the main report to explore how tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs are used by people aged 14 and over in Australia. It also highlights how the survey results vary by age, geographic area, level of socioeconomic advantage and disadvantage, and a person’s education. All increases, decreases, or changes in estimates over time mentioned in this report are statistically significant at the 95% level of confidence unless specified otherwise.

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Australia’s Nursing Now lead, the Australian College of Nursing is calling on Finance Minister Mathias Cormann and other G20 finance ministers and central bank governors to demonstrate leadership by putting health at the heart of decision-making when they meet on 18-19 July to discuss the economic fall-out from COVID-19.

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Fewer Australians reported feeling personal stress, anxiety or loneliness as COVID-19 restrictions began to ease in late June, according to latest data issued by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Head of Household Surveys Michelle Marquardt said the seventh Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey, carried out from 24-29 June, before the reinstating of restrictions in some parts of the country, showed how Australian’s mental health had recovered once restrictions were eased.

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Research released this week by MYOB has revealed the number one cause of business-related mental health challenges for one in three small business owners has been COVID-19 (36%), followed by financial concerns like cash flow (26%).

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Young people struggling with their mental health during and after the coronavirus pandemic will be able to access targeted, personalised therapy with an innovative new program funded by the Victorian Government.  Premier Daniel Andrews joined Minister for Mental Health Martin Foley this week to launch Orygen’s new digital mental health platform for young people called MOST – Moderated Online Social Therapy – an online tool which allows young people to access tailored online therapy and peer support, when and where they need it.  

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Minister for Health, Roger Cook, says residents of rural and regional Western Australia are receiving specialist mental health care closer to home and avoiding transfer as the WA Country Health Service’s Mental Health Emergency Telehealth Service celebrates one year. 

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Richmond Fellowship of Australia is a public company that confederates the independent state and territory Richmond Fellowships in Australia:  Richmond Fellowship Queensland, Richmond Fellowship Tasmania, Richmond Fellowship ACT and Richmond Fellowship Western Australia.  Key objectives of the confederation include contributing in educative and policy making forums that inform and enable mental health recovery.
Website – http://rfact.org.au/



Carers ACT is a not-for-profit organisation and the peak body for carers in the ACT. Their purpose is to nurture, connect and empower carers through a wide range of practical, emotional and social programs. Carers are partners, spouses, children, family, friends or neighbours who assist someone who has a disability, is ageing or has an ongoing mental or other illness. Carers provide informal, unpaid help with daily living activities. Carers ACT is a proud member of the National Network of Carers Associations. They are a non-government, not-for-profit Company Limited by Guarantee that relies on public and private sector support to fulfil their mission with, and on behalf of, carers.
Website www.carersact.org.au Facebook www.facebook.com/CarersACT Twitter www.twitter.com/CarersACT

Have your say on the Review of the Disability Standards for Education 2005 (the Standards). The Standards help to make sure students with disability can access and participate in education and training on the same basis as students without disability. This supports people with disability to be able to participate fully in society and have more opportunities throughout their life.

This week marked the opening of public consultations for the 2020 Review (the Review) of the Disability Standards for Education 2005 (the Standards).

This included the launch of the Review website and release of a discussion paper  as well as the announcement of their first event a launch webinar focused on schooling, featuring Dr Ben Gauntlett, Australia’s Disability Discrimination Commissioner.

This webinar will take place from 3.00-5.00pm (AEST) on Thursday 23 July 2020. Anyone interested in attending the webinar may register here

Read more

In April 2020 Mental Health Carers Australia (MHCA) was invited to talk with the National Disability Insurance Agency about impacts on families and carers of NDIS participants with psychosocial disability due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

MHCA conducted this survey in partnership with our member organisations and MHCA carer advisory group to better understand the impacts on families and carers and to identify the main challenges faced in order to inform policy responses. The survey was distributed through MHCA’s member and stakeholder networks. 

We would like to thank all the tireless family members and carers who completed the survey and their generosity in sharing their personal stories during these challenging times.

There were 103 completed survey responses from carers of NDIS participants from across Australia. The key themes from their responses reinforced findings from the Caring Fairly Survey in May and provided more focused insights around the needs of NDIS carers.

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