National Survey on the Impact of COVID-19 on the Mental Health of Australian Residential Aged Care Residents and Staff

Article


Brydon, Aida, Bhar, Sunil, Doyle, Colleen, Batchelor, Frances, Lovelock, Harry, Almond, Helen, Mitchell, Leander, Nedeljkovic, Maja, Savvas, Steven and Wuthrich, Viviana. 2022. "National Survey on the Impact of COVID-19 on the Mental Health of Australian Residential Aged Care Residents and Staff." Clinical Gerontologist. 45 (1), pp. 58-70. https://doi.org/10.1080/07317115.2021.1985671
Article Title

National Survey on the Impact of COVID-19 on the Mental Health of Australian Residential Aged Care Residents and Staff

Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsBrydon, Aida, Bhar, Sunil, Doyle, Colleen, Batchelor, Frances, Lovelock, Harry, Almond, Helen, Mitchell, Leander, Nedeljkovic, Maja, Savvas, Steven and Wuthrich, Viviana
Journal TitleClinical Gerontologist
Journal Citation45 (1), pp. 58-70
Number of Pages13
Year01 Jan 2022
Place of PublicationUnited States
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1080/07317115.2021.1985671
Web Address (URL)https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07317115.2021.1985671
Abstract

Objectives: This study is the first to obtain data on the prevalence of, contributors to, and supports required for, pandemic-related distress within the residential aged care sector in Australia. A nested mixed-methods approach was used to examine aged care leaders’ opinions about the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of aged care residents and staff.

Methods: A total of 288 senior staff of Australian residential aged care facilities (care managers, clinical care coordinators, and lifestyle team leaders; mean age = 52.7 years, SD = 10.3) completed an online survey between 10th September and 31st October 2020.

Results: On average, nearly half of their residents experienced loneliness (41%) and a third experienced anxiety in response to COVID-19 (33%). The most frequently noted contributors to poor mental health among residents were restrictions to recreational outings and watching news coverage relating to COVID-19. Participants emphasized the need for increased access to counseling services and improved mental health training amongst staff. Residential care staff were similarly impacted by the pandemic. More than a third of staff were reported as anxious (36%) and 20% depressed, in response to COVID-19. Staff were worried about introducing COVID-19 into their facility and were impacted by news coverage of COVID-19. Staff would feel supported by financial assistance and by increased staff-resident ratios.

Conclusions: Senior staff perceive that the mental health of Australian aged care residents and staff was negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The most noted contributors were identified, as was the mental health support for aged care communities. Clinical Implications: This study provides government and policymakers with clear intervention targets for supporting the sector. Clinicians can support residential aged care communities by providing on-site or telehealth counseling, and upskill and train residential aged care staff on how to respond to the emotional needs of residents in response to COVID-19.

KeywordsCOVID-19; mental health; aged care; older adults; residential aged care
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Byline AffiliationsSwinburne University of Technology
National Ageing Research Institute, Australia
Mental Health Australia
University of Queensland
Macquarie University
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