Improving the Mental Health of Very Old People

Improving the Mental Health of Very Old People

Graduate Certificate
Semester 2 - Older unit

The number of people living to very old age is increasing. This unit applies a person-centred recovery-oriented focus for working with people who are moving into very old age. It investigates the challenges in recognising and supporting the potential for very old people to contribute to society, as well as the concept of recovery in the presence of cognitive decline or severely impaired health. It evaluates key aspects of person-centred care, its practicalities in everyday practice and its effectiveness in improving clinical outcome. Students will be adapting assessment, care planning, management and interventions to meet the needs of very old people, as well as deepening their knowledge of very old age, grief, ethico-legal issues, the psychotic spectrum, dementia and behavioural and psychological changes that may occur in the presence of dementia. This unit also prepares students for the responsibility of completing a report related to Guardianship proceedings.


Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the unit, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate application of knowledge about normal development, mental illness and distress experienced by the very old in the provision of evidence-based care using a person-centred recovery-based framework.
  • Formulate in partnership with the person and their carers, biopsychosocial assessment and management which integrates physical and mental health in response to mental health presentations in very old people using a person-centred recovery-based framework.
  • Adapt approaches and interventions for people with mental health symptoms in diverse community and people living with dementia to meet needs associated with culture, spirituality and/or social context.
  • Engage in meaningful professional relationships within ethico-legal frameworks for very old people with lived experience, their families and carers, in a variety of health settings.
  • Demonstrate understanding of the implications of law, policy, procedures and scope of practice when providing mental health care across service settings.
  • Demonstrate reflective practice through self-awareness, open communication and collaboration in addressing loss and grief.

Weekly Schedule
Week 1 Person-centred care for older people
Week 2 Biopsychosocial assessment and management
Week 3 Neuropsychology in old age
Week 4 Capacity, Power of attorney and Guardianship
Week 5 Working with people experiencing dementia
Week 6 Managing needs-driven behaviour in dementia I
Week 7 Managing needs-driven behaviour in dementia II
Week 8 Supporting family and carers of people living with dementia
Week 9 End of life (EoL) care and decision making
Week 10 Loss and grief in old age
Week 11 LGBTIQ in old age
Week 12 Assessment and management of pain in old age
Week 13 Policy, procedures and scope of practice in older people and mental health
Week 14 Validation therapy and reminiscence therapy
Week 15 Ethics and its application to mental health and older people