The Healthy Ageing Service Response (HASR) has recently been awarded The Faculty of Psychiatry of Old Age Prize for Best Mental Health Service Improvement from The Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists. This prestigious award recognises the efforts of HASR in enhancing mental health services for older individuals. The innovative model works to improve the mental health of older adults in the community.
HASR, a collaborative initiative between Eastern Health and St Vincent's Hospital and funded by Eastern Melbourne PHN, aims to address the holistic needs of older people aged 65 and above and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged 55 and above. Recognizing the increased risk factors for mental health problems in older age, such as poor physical health, life transitions, social isolation, and adverse life events, HASR endeavours to bridge the existing gaps in mental health services for this demographic.
Many individuals over the age of 65 struggle with limited access to mental health services, and those residing in residential aged care facilities face even greater challenges. The prevalence of mental illness among residents in such facilities is significantly higher than in the general community. HASR aims to address these disparities and provide much-needed support.
The program employs a comprehensive "whole of person" approach to mental health care. It recognizes that mental well-being is intertwined with various other support needs, including alcohol and drug treatment, suicide prevention, psychosocial support, housing, and physical health. Key elements of the program include:
- Identifying at-risk individuals: HASR aims to proactively identify individuals at risk of mental illness, ensuring early intervention and support.
- Collaborative team-based care: The program offers support and mental health training to general practitioners, practice staff, and residential aged care facility staff to facilitate collaborative team-based care.
- Enhanced support for older people: HASR provides increased support to older individuals with mental illness, whether they live in the community or in residential aged care facilities. Families are also included in this support network.
HASR is a ground-breaking initiative that seeks to address the mental health needs of older individuals in our community. By providing comprehensive support and early intervention, HASR ensures older Australians who are most in need, receive the care they deserve. This award-winning program represents a significant step towards improving mental health services for older adults, fostering overall well-being and a better quality of life for our senior community members. Congratulation to Dr Terence Chong and the team on their work.