Improved mental health first aid training, new accommodation for people with dementia and an increased focus on palliative care are among the steps the new state government will take to meet the needs of older South Australians.
Health Minister Stephen Wade has announced the establishment of the Older Person Mental Health First Aid course to provide specialised mental health first aid training for families and carers.
Mr Wade said mental health problems were under-diagnosed and under-treated, with symptoms often attributed to “old age”.
“Learning the signs and symptoms of common mental health problems and identifying ways to support older people experiencing depression, anxiety, confusion, dementia and psychosis is important knowledge for community groups,” he said.
The government has also announced plans to re-open the Repatriation General Hospital at Daw Park as a health precinct providing hospital and other health services.
The new precinct at the Daw Park site, which closed last November, will include a mental health facility providing accommodation for people with challenging symptoms of dementia.
Mr Wade said Northgate House – which was established 12 months ago to care for residents following the closure of the Oakden Aged Mental Health Facility – had just been awarded three years’ accreditation.
He described it as an example of what could be achieved “if we work together”.
The government also plans to commit $16 million in funding towards palliative care.
Mr Wade said the current weekly palliative care services will be extended to provide a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week service.