New Funding Delivers Free Mental Health Support for Mid North Coast Residents in Aged Care Facilities

Healthy North Coast (HNC) has provided funding through its Primary Health Network (PHN) program for counselling and psychological support services to people in residential aged care facilities (RACFs).

The PHN program is an Australian Government initiative.

In the Mid North Coast, the service is being delivered by EACH, an organisation that provides an integrated range of health, disability, counselling and mental health services across Australia.

EACH One Matters is the name of the new service. It offers free, evidence-based individual and group counselling and psychological therapies tailored to the needs of people living in aged care. RACF residents previously had to pay for these services.

EACH is also working closely with RACF staff to provide additional mental health training and capacity-building opportunities.

“EACH One Matters has been particularly beneficial to residents in responding to the potential for increased distress because of social isolation caused by COVID-19,” said HNC Chief Executive, Julie Sturgess.

“Currently, aged care residents are not eligible for mental health services under the government’s Better Access mental health initiative, unlike older people living in the community. This service is a positive change for RACF residents.”

Federal Member for Cowper, Pat Conaghan, welcomed the EACH One Matters service being offered in RACFs in Coffs Harbour, Bellingen, Nambucca Heads, Kempsey and Port Macquarie.

“Our government is committed to supporting senior Australians in aged care and this program will provide a safe, accessible channel to counsellors who residents can talk to,” he said.

Research undertaken by Beyond Blue shows that 10 to 15 per cent of older people experience depression and about 10 per cent experience anxiety. The rate of depression among people living in RACFs is believed to be much higher, at around 52 per cent.

For some people, adapting to living in a RACF can include:

  • psychological adjustment to entering care and approaching the end of life
  • physical and health challenges
  • anxiety and stress
  • social isolation
  • grief and loss.

“EACH One Matters stands by its name,” said Team Leader, Mick Easton. “We believe that everyone is entitled to good health, and that includes good mental and emotional health.

“We provide support for residents who need someone to talk to about the things that might be causing them distress or concern. They might not necessarily have a mental health diagnosis.

“We have a dedicated team of mental health professionals who have diverse experience and are passionate about what they do.

“Anyone can make a referral for a friend or family member living in a residential aged care facility, who they think would benefit from our services. Referrals can also be made by GPs and RACFs, plus residents can self-refer.”

Ms Sturgess said the service had been established after a successful 2019 trial involving nine RACFs from Kempsey to Tweed Heads. The trial was also run in two Queensland locations in partnership with local PHNs. The combined evaluation report showed measurable benefit from the availability of mental health support within RACFs.

If you would like more information about EACH One Matters, or to make a referral, you can call 0400 596 499 or email: [email protected]

A similar service has been funded in Northern NSW and is contracted to Change Futures Ltd, a registered charity that provides quality mental health services to the community through individual and group programs delivered by psychologists.

Contact for more Information

Zoe​ Satherley

Phone: (02) 6618 5422

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