News & Events

OCAV tells mental health story

February 27, 2019

The OCAV has urged the Royal Commission into Mental Health to consider older people, carers of older people, and the effect of homelessness as part of its submission into the terms of reference.

Shaaron Robilliard, Director of Nursing and Quality Manager, said it was crucial that older people and issues that affected their mental health were considered by the Royal Commission.

“The facts speak for themselves: around 15 per cent of older men and women experience depression and anxiety. Spouses of people living with dementia have a four-fold higher risk of a diagnoses of depression than the spouses of people who do not have dementia. In 2008, almost 35 per cent of older people living in Australian residential care facilities had depression, and more than half had a mental health or behavioural condition,” she said.

Ms Robilliard said that the situation had worsened since the introduction of the National Disability Scheme.

“The NDIS does not cater for people over 60, and, as a consequence, they miss out on essential services previously funded through the Victorian health system,” she said.

She said OCAV was especially concerned about the link between homelessness, mental health and older people.

“Homelessness is stressful, and the lack of affordable housing compounds that stress,” she said.

“More than half of our residents were homeless or vulnerably housed before coming to OCAV. Many cite mental health as one of their greatest concerns.”

“The current terms of reference do not include homelessness or housing or older people specifically, and we hope our contribution will help correct this oversight,” Ms Robilliard said.

Other themes that OCAV would like to see explored are effective funding for social mental health issues, the current funding is skewed to treatment; effective funding for mental health among the middle-aged population; the lack of funding has long-term consequences for how older people are cared for; and support for carers of older people.

Sanctuary is how artist Gillian Coates describes her home at Currie Park, OCAV’s village in Euroa. “When I go to Melbourne and I am heading back to Euroa, I can’t wait to get home to the peacefulness of this place. It is like a sanctuary for me."

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