Baptcare Community Aged Care Programs
Commonwealth Respite (Southern Region)
Nextt Health Cert VI Aged Care Students and staff
Beyond Blue in-kind (funding of and the allocation of in-kind resources from Beyond Blue including a Project Manager (0.5 FTE))
Baptcare Community Aged care program $30,000
Beyond Blue in-kind
Project completion year
On average, one in five people will experience depression in their lifetime; one in four women and one in six men. There are significant risk factors and signs of depression among older people living in their own homes, with 50 per cent of people showing signs of depression prior to admission to an aged care facility. Research into residential aged care indicates that depression rates are higher in aged-care facilities, with as many as 51 per cent of high-care and 30 per cent of low-care residents reported as depressed.
Commonwealth funded Community Aged Care Packages (CACPs) fund home delivered services to older people to support the daily living activities of those who might otherwise seek entry to residential care. People receiving CACPs have not been routinely screened for depression. Early diagnosis and intervention measures could help to keep older people healthier, independent and able to age in their place of choice and might reduce the number of suicides among older people.
Beyond Blue and Baptcare Victoria (one of the largest state distributors of CACPs) initiated a project, maturityBlueprint in July 2005 to address the issue of depression in older people being assessed and managed through CACPs. Training was targeted to professional staff at Baptcare that would equip them to identify clients at risk of depression in the community and to refer those people to appropriate care. A Train-the-Trainer program for selected staff was included to maintain an internal training program after the end of the project.
A further aim was to increase staff confidence and enhance ability to be able to respond to older people living in their own homes and receiving CACPs and to assist recipients to more effectively obtain assessment, support and treatment as necessary.
The content of the training program was informed by a consultation process with staff, care recipients, carers and students of Certificate III in Aged Care. They were asked a series of questions “Based on your experiences what do you think are the important areas to include in a training program for this level of staff?” They were all asked what they thought were the most important areas to include in a training program and the recommendations from each group were remarkably similar.
Evaluation of increased knowledge and change in negative attitudes was gained using questionnaires based on the Beyond Blue national depression monitor. Further questions were included to illicit the recipient’s change in comfort level in dealing with depressed older people pre- and post-training. Evaluation consisted of immediate pre- training and immediate post- training questionnaires with three-, six- and 12-month follow-up questionnaires. The outcomes demonstrate the effectiveness of the training.
This project has illustrated the effectiveness of providing depression awareness training specifically designed for those working with older people. It further shows that direct training to staff in the front line of assessment and care can enhance the recognition of depression and improve the interventions for older people with depression who are living at home under Aged Care Packages Services.
The evaluation of the program indicates that staff knowledge about depression increased, stigmatising attitudes improved and the ability to recognise signs and symptoms of depression increased.
Importantly, staff reported that they felt better equipped to work with clients with depression and even those clients who may be suicidal. Participants also indicated that their comfort level improved in supporting colleagues with depression. Comfort with identifying signs and symptoms increased from 40 per cent to 90 per cent and those who felt very comfortable dealing with someone who felt suicidal increased from 50 per cent to 70 per cent following training.
In its initial stages, the project was able to demonstrate the effectiveness of depression recognition training. The longer-term effect of the program is uncertain due to the low sample size and low follow-up rates at three and six months from the training participants.
Material developed for this training was used as a basis for developing other training programs including for the COTA Peer Education program and beyond maturityblues – depression and older people.
Implications for policy and practice
This program emphasised the need for training for a broad range of organisations and individuals who work with older people. Potentially, this training could be incorporated into all levels of training for people working with older people and even older people themselves.
Further implementation of the maturityBlueprint training program has the potential to value add to CACP service delivery through investing in assessment and management staff development to reduce the burden of depression as an illness that affects many clients and increases client services demands.
- Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing. (2001) Challenge Depression. A manual, video and poster to help staff, residents and relatives identify and reduce depression in aged care facilities.
- Lawrence, D., Almeida, O.P., Hulse, G.B., Jablensky, A.V., Holman, D., (2000), Suicide and Attempted Suicide among Older Adults in Western Australia. Psychological Medicine, 30(4) July 2000: 813-821