These days, mental health in long-term care is getting far more attention than it used to. After 25 years as a nursing home psychologist, it’s pretty exciting to see.
I perused the April print edition of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News and found articles on the impact of nurse stress on quality of care, the connection between nursing turnover and the emotional toll of the job, and the importance of mental health support for staff.
Last week, McKnight’s Senior Editor Kimberly Marselas wrote about the increased attention being paid by CMS to mental health conditions, and on iCare’s Chris Wright: Seizing on skilled nursing’s behavioral health opportunities.
It’s my hope that this attention generates a shift in the way that psychology services are utilized and reimbursed.
While it’s valuable to provide individual services for residents with identified mental health conditions, psychologists can and should do so much more.
The mental health challenges in nursing homes would be better served if psychologists were involved in programming, such as the STAR-VA model for dementia-related behaviors, or the Eldercare Method, developed by senior living consultant Kelly O’Shea Carney, Ph.D., ABPP to address the behavioral health needs of long-term care residents.
She and Margaret Norris, Ph.D., wrote “Transforming Long-Term Care: Expanded Roles for Mental Health Professionals,” which “shows how mental health practitioners can use their full range of skills to create systems that are more supportive and engaging for residents, while also providing the staff with greater opportunities for professional growth and meaning.”
As I’ve written about in the past, psychologists can be instrumental in a wide variety of currently problematic areas such as:
- Staff training, including education on mental health basics and psychiatric illnesses, how to work with families, stress management techniques, and other issues that typically arise for staff in the nursing home setting.