The availability of psychological services for aged care residents in Australia: a survey of facility staff

Jennifer Stargatt*, Sunil S. Bhar, Tanya E. Davison, Nancy A. Pachana, Leander Mitchell, Deborah Koder, Carol Hunter, Colleen Doyle, Yvonne Wells, Edward Helmes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Rates of depression and anxiety are high among older adults in residential aged care facilities (RACFs). This study examined the extent to which psychological services are made available to facility residents in Australia, and investigated barriers to accessing such services. Method: The sample consisted of 90 senior staff from a random sample of RACFs. Participants completed self-report questionnaires regarding their perspectives on the availability of psychological services and potential barriers to access psychological services. Results: Access to psychological services was poor. Psychologists were employed at a rate only one third that of other providers of mental health services. Residents were rarely referred to psychologists or to psychological treatments. The most important barriers to access, as perceived by participants, were the low availability of psychologists specialising in treating older adults, lack of government funding for such access, and limited staff training in detecting depression and anxiety. Conclusion: Access to psychologists and psychological services remains poor in Australian residential aged care settings. Such access may be improved by developing a workforce of clinical geropsychologists, improving funding mechanisms for residents to access psychological services, and addressing staff knowledge about depression and anxiety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)406-413
Number of pages8
JournalAustralian Psychologist
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • aged care
  • geropsychology
  • mental health
  • older adults
  • residential care
  • psychological treatment


Dive into the research topics of 'The availability of psychological services for aged care residents in Australia: a survey of facility staff'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this