Many over 60s denied treatment because of “blatantly discriminatory” rule

Many seniors that for one reason or another live in Aged Care are being denied access to mental treatment over

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”.

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?

  1. David  

    Since when is an aged care facility not in the community – it is a community. Another bit of bureaucratic nonsense for the LNP to save money and get out of the reponsibilities it took on

    • Jude Power  

      Yep, I couldn’t agree more: more targetting of the most vulnerable people who as you rightly say, are in the community.

    • Joy Anne Bourke  

      David so true, This LNP do not care for our Aged only himself and mates and of cause the rich.
      This is an absolute disgrace. But its OK for Senator Ley to spend all the money on a trip to Brisbane and also buy a Unit for personal reasons. What a rort

  2. Jude Power  

    Surely anyone who’s alive is in the community of citizens who’ve paid taxes in the past? It’s ridiculous that we anti-discrimination laws but governments can circumvent or ignore them … oh but of course they can, what else did they do when they suspended the racial provisions to “intervene” (for which read send in the military) in Aboriginal communities?

    This should be taken to the Human Rights Commission before this government abolishes it or appoints one of its reactionary lackeys to run it.

    • Robin Graham  

      Its the facility’s fault they charge the residents plenty but dont want to provide any care in this area unless the Gov pays fair enough but will they do it if the Gov does I think they are a commercial bussiness and want profits before care .

  3. Adrian Collier  

    This unfair situation is very similar in principle to the questions that are required to be answered by patients that enter a hospital for treatment,these questions pertain to the menu and level of treatment if life saving treatment is required.The answers are sought by medical staff and it is conducted in a pressured coercive manner.These questions are presented as mandatory if you are over the age of 60 .This seems unfair and discriminatory —- especially — (having paid taxes for more than 40years)

  4. tisme  

    give the politicians a massive pay cut and/or their superannuation

    • Donald Turner  

      About time the Pollies stopped grabbing their big rewards ,and started to look after Aussie citizen

  5. Keira  

    This is a blatant human rights violation. No human being should have to suffer the heavy symptom burden of anxiety disorder and depressive disorder. The best that psychiatry can offer needs to be made available to them. It is a fundamental human right to not suffer.

  6. andrew  

    You only have to ask a doctor and they will prescribe as many antidepressants as you like. How hard is that? They hand them out like lollies. Trouble is they kill you.

  7. Mary  

    How many of those that say help should be at hand have private health insurance or would be happy to see their children or grandchildren pay more taxes so that more and more people get their share of Medicare funds. It is not an bottomless pit. Someone has to make the hard decisions. I will pay for these sorts of medical expenses rather than have more to divide in my will

  8. Maureen  

    People in aged care diagnosed with a mental illness have access to the local community mental health teams at no cost. The GP mental health Better Access items do not apply to them. If a patient sees a private psychiatrist there is a Medicare rebate regardless of whether they live in aged care or not.. My mother is in aged care and has a mental illness (not depression). She receives visits from a private psychiatrist who specialises in aged care, and bulk bills Mother. We would not care if we had to pay a gap for this or the full fee. Also some people may have private health insurance which can assist with psychological therapy. Medicare can’t cover everything. I also wonder how much benefit patients with, say, dementia, would get from seeing a psychologist. We need to increase the use of registered nurses in these facilities, nurses experienced in aged care, rather than decrease their numbers, which is currently happening.

  9. Ian  

    It’s not just mental health that is being denied. I had been living overseas for 6 months and returned to Australia for some medical treatment. I was told that my healthcare card and medicare card had been canceled because I was living overseas. I would have to wait 6 months to have them reinstated

  10. Greg Hills  

    An aged care facility is just a home for the aged. It is not an institution such as as asylum for the mentally insane.
    People pay good money (way too much, in my opinion) to buy into these homes, in order to be looked after in their retirement.
    If they need mental health care, then Medicare should cover it. Just yet another shining example of the LNP cretins making decisions that down grade Medicare services. It is their way of chipping away, chipping away, until they would destroy Medicare by stealth.
    Time to say no more, and get rid of these useless LNP politicians from out of government. They have never to deserved to be there in the first place, even from as far back as that bloody economic em icicle, Menzies!

    • Greg Hills  

      That of course was meant to be embecile not Em ecile! Sorry for the typo, but as you can gather I am very anti-LNP anything.

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