It can be easy to notice and to offer assistance when someone is struggling physically or in pain. What isn’t as easy is identifying and knowing what to do when they are struggling with their mental health.

In Australia, traditional models of in-home care have not focused on mental health treatment, despite people who receive care in their home being twice as likely as the general population to experience a mental health disorder, such as depression or anxiety. 

Left untreated, mental health conditions are associated with reduced quality of life, physical deterioration and can also increase the likelihood of an older person needing to move into residential care.

Depression and anxiety are not a normal part of ageing. 

For people like 76-year-old Helen, a slow ongoing decline in her physical coordination, strength and balance has left her feeling guilty about becoming increasingly dependent on others. 

Helen is not alone. Poor mental health can impact anyone. It affects how we think, feel and act as we cope with life. 

Our clinicians and carers are ideally placed to detect signs and symptoms of mental health disorders. We regularly visit clients’ homes and get to know each of our clients. We build trusted relationships and notice when there are changes in someone’s mood or when they don’t quite seem like themselves.

Recognising the difference between a bad day here and there and poor mental health is vital. 

By donating today, you can help our research team explore solutions to the growing mental health needs for those who are receiving care in their own home. 

We see the positive impacts that good mental health has on our clients’ lives and sadly the impacts when someone’s mental health is not good. 

We are rising to the challenge to support the estimated 45% of people in Australia who will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime. Will you help meet that challenge?

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Meet Helen

Helen is a lovely client of ours. She receives in-home care to support her in being able to stay in her home of more than 40 years. At 76 years old, Helen has been no stranger to the ups and downs of life, but has always described herself as a positive, happy person. 

“A few years ago, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, and as it has progressed, I’ve needed more and more help to stay at home. I love my home and I’m not ready for residential care, but things have slowly got more difficult.” 

Silver Chain helps Helen through a home care package, providing daily assistance in showering and dressing, helping her to attend the local social centre as well as various outings she has with her friends and family. Over time, Helen has formed strong relationships with the carers who support her and offers that she has really come to trust “the lovely ladies who come and help me”. 

Helen was managing well at home with the level of care she was receiving until her vision started to decline. This worried Helen as it became more difficult to socialise with her friends and to do the activities that she loves: “I stopped wanting to get out of bed in the morning; there just didn’t seem to be a point with how hard it was getting to leave the house.” 

Kim, Helen’s carer, noticed after a few visits that she wasn’t quite herself and contacted Helen’s care co-ordinator with her concerns. Helen’s family were also worried and had started to make enquiries about residential aged care. Together, those in Helen’s life were able to get her access to mental health support, thanks to Kim spotting the signs. 

Poor mental health can be improved and supported with the right care. 

Untreated mental illness, such as the depression that Helen was starting to feel can have such a negative impact. There are a wide range of supports and treatments that can be put in place to support people’s mental health and successfully reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety. With your help we can put in place a world class mental health screening program for frontline staff to recognise and act on early warning signs.

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When you donate today, you will be supporting a new model of mental health care.

Our Research and Innovation team has already begun to team up with leading experts in aged mental health around Australia and the globe to design, implement and evaluate our approach. We need your donation to support this work, to fund collaboration and the co-design of solutions. 

Your support will lead to a multi-stage approach to providing mental health care in the home: 

  • Our first step is discovering the best way to detect symptoms of mental illness early in our community of clients. This allows for early intervention, and better outcomes such as being able to live at home for longer. 
  • Next, we will work with universities, experts in the field, our frontline carers, and our clients to produce evidence-based treatment strategies that work for different environments and people. 
  • Using these strategies, a single care plan will be developed, with inputs from all the needed specialists to provide a multidisciplinary and coordinated treatment plan. 
  • At every step of the way, we will be listening and working with our clients and staff, the people with hands on experience to ensure practical and acceptable approaches. 

As an existing provider of in-home care, we are ideally positioned to provide mental health support to those who need it with our network of clinicians and carers. We need your support to research and develop the best, evidence-based treatment plans for our team to use with our clients. 

Once developed, our frontline staff will be trained in these new intervention and treatment approaches you helped to create, so they can best support older people struggling with their mental health.

How can you help?

Australia’s population is ageing rapidly. We recognise that older people face different physical and mental health challenges which need to be supported. 

Research into the causes of mental illness, and prevention, early intervention, and treatment strategies is critical for reducing prevalence and impact. 

Your donation can really help keep someone safe and comfortable in their own home for longer. Mental health problems are under-identified, we need people to recognise symptoms and take appropriate action early so the right supports can be put in place promptly. 

No one should have to struggle in silence. You can help people be heard and seen. 

With your support, we can create a better home care system for all Australians that reinvests into research and innovation to help keep people like Helen safe and connected within the community. 

If you'd like to support us, donate here or find out about other ways you can get involved.

Donate today, to help break down mental health stigmas in older people and create a better home care system for all Australians.

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