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History of the Psychology in Aged Care (PAC) Well-being Program

Most Australians are unaware that historically older people living in aged care have had limited access to psychology services unless they had the financial resources. Medicare rebates to see psychologists are not available to people living in aged care and the industry is not funded to provide psychology services to their residents.

As a result, Change Futures decided to offer free services in 2015 as the rates of depression, anxiety and suicidal thinking are higher in this group than in the general community. These services were offered for free for nearly two years to St Vincent’s at Mitchelton and in 2017, St Vincent’s Care Services decided to fund these services across all of its facilities in south east Queensland in Gympie, Maroochydore, Mitchelton, Bardon, Kangaroo Point, Toowoomba, Southport and Arundel.

The Brisbane North Primary Health Network also commissioned Change Futures to provide low intensity mental health services to residential aged care facilities in the region. This funding continued until June 2019.

Up until the end of June 2018, Change Futures has worked with more than 500 residents, providing more than 2,400 sessions across 15 different facilities. The PHN funded services operate in Opal Aged Care at Carseldine and Morayfield, Churches of Christ at Mitchelton, Peninsula Palms at Rothwell, Lodges on George (CPSM) at Redcliffe, Ozcare at New Farm, Regis at the Gap and TriCare at Stafford Heights.

In all, 15 provisional psychologists supervised by fully registered psychologists provide services to residents such as individual counselling and support groups.

A review in April 2018 of the outcomes of the program demonstrated clinically significant reductions in depression, anxiety and psychological distress; clinically significant improvements in life satisfaction and very high levels of satisfaction with the service rated by residents.

Services Now

As a result of the success of this program. the Brisbane North PHN has funded Change Futures to work in 40 plus facilities in the Brisbane North region until June 2020. The Gold Coast PHN has funded Change Futures to trial its model in eight facilities on the Gold Coast and the Northern NSW PHN has funded work in nine facilities. Families, residents, GPs, aged care facility staff and others can make an aged care online referral at Aged Care Referral page.