New course will help improve mental health of elderly

BEYONGBLUE has launched a free online course to help aged care workers recognise or manage depression and anxiety in the older people they work with, while safeguarding their own mental health.  

The course, Professional Education to Aged Care (PEAC), has been designed to suit aged care professionals in a range of roles, in both residential and community care settings.

Prevalence  

Research shows around one in 10 older Australians experiences depression and a similar number experiences anxiety, but older people in the community who are frail and need support to remain at home are twice as likely to experience depression as those who need less support.  

Depression is also more prevalent among people living in residential care with a third of residents experiencing the condition. Rates of anxiety in people in aged care are estimated to be similar.

PEAC Online Course  

The new PEAC online course is aimed at tackling these concerning rates, by enabling more aged care workers to improve the detection and management of mental health conditions in the older people they care for and assist those at risk of suicide.  

It also offers workers guidance on how to look after their own mental health.

The course includes videos of aged care professionals talking about how they got assistance when they were struggling and how they keep well, despite a sometimes challenging work environment.  

Beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman said people working in aged care make an incredible contribution to the lives of many older Australians, and this innovative course will help them continue to do so.  

"By being able to recognise when people are struggling or at risk of suicide, and knowing what steps to take to support them, aged care workers can have a huge positive impact on the mental health of those they care for," she said.  

"This is important as research shows some older people are particularly at risk of suicide.  

The most recent Australian Bureau of Statistics suicide data reveals men aged 85 and older are the most likely male age group to take their own lives.  

"If aged care workers have good mental health, they will be able to perform better at work and derive lifestyle benefits outside of their work environment.  

"To meet the needs of our ageing population, Australia's aged care workforce is expected to double and exceed 800,000 over the next 40 years. Simple, inexpensive, short courses like this will add to the skills of this workforce, and improve the wellbeing of older Australians, without putting pressure on employers."  

Adapted from a successful face-to-face workshop, PEAC is made up of seven, half-hour modules, and has been accredited with the Australian Council of Nursing for Continuing Professional Development points.   For more information on the free Professional Education to Aged Care (PEAC) program, or to register to take the course, visit www.beyondblue.org.au/peac.


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