Psychological services for aged care residents: A decade of experiences, challenges and surprises

Presenter: Professor Sunil Bhar, Swinburne University

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About the presentation

Most of the thousands of older adults who live in Australian residential aged care facilities have significant symptoms of depression, anxiety and suicide ideation. Yet, there are very few psychological services dedicated to the mental health needs of aged care residents.

In 2018, primary health networks were funded to commission such services; hence we anticipate that over the next 2 – 3 years we will a greater uptake of such services within aged care facilities. This talk will outline our experiences of providing psychological service to older adults, over a 10 year period though Swinburne’s Wellbeing Clinic for Older Adults.

The talk will present our experiences, including the many challenges and surprises that we have encountered as we have rolled our services to more than 60 aged care facilities. The talk will also summarise research findings over the past decade that have focussed on mental health services for residential aged care. The talk will close with a discussion of innovative service delivery paradigms, and with key messages for mental health practitioners working in residential aged care.

About the presenter

Sunil Bhar is a Professor of Psychology at Swinburne University of Technology. He is co-director of the Wellbeing Clinic for Older Adults – Swinburne University’s mental health counselling clinic for older people living in residential aged care homes. He leads an active research lab focusing on the emotional wellbeing of older adults. His research focusses on the application of reminiscence and cognitive-behavioural therapies for older people living with depression, anxiety or dementia. He has won over $2 million in research grants to examine the wellbeing of older adults living in residential aged care settings. He is a diplomate of the Academy of Cognitive Therapies, having worked with Aaron Beck, MD for a number of years to investigate the adaptation of cognitive-behavioural therapy for older adults. Alongside his research and teaching interests, Professor Bhar has maintained a clinical practice for over 20 years.  

Further information: [email protected]

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