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Published: 2 December 2020

The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) CEO Cindy Smith has welcomed the announcement that the Federal Government will implement all six recommendations the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, made in its COVID-19 and Aged Care special report.

“The AASW has been strongly advocating for aged care residents to have access to mental health professionals under Better Access over a long period of time.”

“We are especially pleased to see the acceptance of recommendation three which will see the creation of new MBS items to support aged care residents with their mental health needs.”

Ms Smith said residents of aged care will now have the same rights as other Australians to access mental health support under Medicare by an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker (AMHSW).

“COVID-19 has had an especially negative impact on the mental health and wellbeing of aged care residents, and the introduction of these new MBS items is a good first step in addressing the psychosocial needs of residents.”

“This will be particularly important as residents recover from the isolation of facility lockdowns and not being able to see family and friends, all the while grieving the temporary loss of independence and autonomy, and the loss of fellow residents.”

‘AMHSWs are specialised in taking a whole of person approach and focusing on the needs of older people within the context of their whole life, not just their ageing related needs, and we are pleased that residents will be able to access this support from 10 December 2020.”

“The AASW will continue to advocate for the rights of older people living in aged care facilities to access mental health support and we will be monitoring the recommendations from the release of the final report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety in February 2021,” she said.

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers