Mental health outcomes of family carers during the transition of their family member to residential aged care

Presenter: Dr Vera Costa, Monash University

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About the presentation

The transition of an older family member into a residential aged care facility (RACF) is often challenging for both the person being admitted and their family carer. A number of factors protect, contribute or predict adverse mental health outcomes among family carers following the decision to move a family member to a RACF.

This presentation brings together the findings of 1) a narrative review aimed at identifying protective and contributing factors, and 2) a cross-sectional study investigating the predictors of poor mental health outcomes among family carers of residents after permanent admission to residential aged care.

The evidence suggests factors such lack of flow and transparency of information between carer and the facility staff may predispose carers to poor mental health following the transition of a relative to a RACF. Key protective factors of carer’s mental health following admission are staff efforts to involve carers in providing emotional support to their relative, in monitoring care, and advocating for their quality of life.

Using a cross-sectional design, 309 primary family contacts of aged care residents, responded to a survey evaluating predictors of mental health outcomes. Time since admission did not affect the level of psychological distress or subjective burden. Women, spouses, those who spoke a non-English language at home, less satisfied with the support offered by the facility, who did not feel supported in the decision to admit their relative, who were lonelier, and provide higher levels of care pre-admission are at higher risk of poor mental health outcomes and need additional support.

These findings may inform the development of screening tools and tailored interventions to support this population during and after the transitional process.

About the presenter

Vera is a primary care researcher, and a former mental health clinician, with an expertise and passion in the implementation of evidence-based interventions for improving mental health across the life span. As a Research Fellow at the Department of General Practice at Monash University, Vera currently manages the implementation team of a large NHMRC Partnership Grant to help GPs adhere to a work-related mental-health guideline when caring for their patients with work-related mental health symptoms. Her research output includes 21 peer-reviewed publications, multiple conference presentations and ongoing collaborations with national multi-disciplinary research teams in Australia. Her research interests are on implementation science, healthy ageing, prevention of poor mental health outcomes, and evidence-based clinical practice.

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