Many seniors that for one reason or another live in Aged Care are being denied access to mental treatment over a policy that many are labelling “blatantly discriminatory”.
Under one of the Medicare rules, seniors living in Aged Care facilities are denied GP mental health treatment plans and any other psychological therapies from the Better Access program because they are not “in the community.”
Facilities are also not helping their residents by paying for these treatments with experts saying that the government hasn’t made it mandatory nor provided any funding to allow for it. With over 80,000 residents suffering from mental illness it makes it a hard situation to continue to ignore.
Dr Rod McKay from the NSW Institute of Psychiatry says that these Medicare exclusions are “blatantly discriminatory”. He also told The Sydney Morning Herald, “I’d estimate conservatively that over 30,000 nursing home residents experiencing depression, for whom psychological therapy should be available as a first-line treatment option, are being denied access to psychologists and allied mental health professionals”.
The chief executive of Aged and Community Services Australia, Patricia Sparrow, agrees and says that aged-care providers are dedicated to meeting “the mental health needs of residents and work in partnership with other organisations to ensure the best quality care and services possible”.
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Ms Sparrow also believes that “it’s difficult for aged-care providers to access ongoing specialist services and support for residents with mental health needs” and that the Government should step in to help make care “available to all Australians, including those older Australians living in residential aged care”.
With so many patients suffering from mental illnesses like depression currently, many believe it should make this “ridiculous” rule obsolete and proper care provided to those that need it most.
What steps could the government do right away to fix this? What do you think the aged care facilities should do in the meantime?