A key priority of EMPHN’s Needs Assessment Report 2018 is to support communities to maintain social and emotional well-being of older people. Recognising risk factors for poor mental health are increasing and mental health disease burden is complex, older people often miss out on care. 

The older persons population is projected to increase by 50% over the next 13 years in the eastern and north eastern suburbs of Melbourne, the largest increases expected in Whittlesea. This means services will be needed to deliver care to a growing number of people aged 65 years of age and over and people who are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons aged 50 years and over. 

Eastern Pilot

The pilot program aims to support general practitioners (GPs) and practice nurses in the City of Whitehorse, Monash and Manningham to better identify mental health issues in older people, and support them to manage the care of older persons with mental health difficulties in the community. The program aims to prevent unwarranted admissions to Eastern Health’s Peter James Centre (PJC), and enable timely discharges back into the care of GPs following admissions to the PJC. 

The pilot supports selected GP practices in the Eastern health catchment by providing direct access to senior mental health nurses and consultant psychiatrist from Eastern Health. In addition, Eastern Health will deliver a few education and professional development sessions regarding older person’s mental health to GPs and nurses.

Rapid Improvement Workshop

Consultation with stakeholders in the older person sector was conducted at a half day workshop on 14 November 2018. The purpose of the workshop was to explore the mental health, alcohol and other drug issues for older people, and consider how to better respond to this population.

Further work

Eastern Melbourne PHN is currently working with service providers to develop new programs to address current needs and gaps in older persons mental health. This includes commissioning a service in the near future targeting the mental health needs of people living in residential aged care facilities (RACFs).