In Australia, approximately 39% of all permanent aged care residents are living with mild to moderate depression[1]. As the average life expectancy increases and the number of Australians aged 65 and over rises, representing 13.3% of the population in June 2009 to 15.9% in 2018[2], more people will be utilising residential aged care facilities (RACFs). The Wellbeing in Aged Care program, run by Community Options Australia aims to address the mental health needs of older persons in RACFs through assessments, care plans and mental health interventions. The program is made possible due to funding from WentWest.


Lionel* was referred to the Wellbeing in Aged Care Program for psychological assessment, and initially presented with depressive and anxiety symptoms and passive suicidal ideation. He suffered from persistent low moods, reduced motivation and energy, frustration, feelings of despair, concentration and memory issues. Lionel shared that his symptoms had started following the loss of his wife. He had also recently suffered a stroke which had left him unable to walk or move the left side of his body. Lionel had lost his independence for basic day-to-day tasks and could no longer participate in many of the social activities he had previously enjoyed. Following a long recovery period in hospital, he moved to a Residential Aged Care Facility. The introduction of COVID-19 restrictions prevented him from seeing his family and made it a struggle for Lionel to adapt to his surroundings.


After hearing Lionel’s story, Wellbeing in Aged Care clinicians diagnosed Lionel with Adjustment Disorder. Together with Lionel, his family and the nursing staff, the team developed suitable treatment methods to reduce his symptoms of anxiety and depression. Using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy techniques such as psychoeducation, relaxation strategies, emotional regulation, and crisis management planning, program staff helped Lionel comfortably adjust to his change in circumstances and new home.


Lionel engaged well with the program sessions and began using crisis management strategies to reduce thoughts of suicide. During the six weeks, Lionel reported no suicidal ideation and stated that he felt increased motivation and energy and reduced anxiety, frustration and despair.


*Name changed to protect the identity of this client

[1] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2015) Australia’s welfare 2015, Australia’s welfare series no. 12. Cat. no. AUS 189, Canberra: AIHW

[2] Australian Bureau of Statistics (2018), Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, Available at:

Read more about this service on their website.

To request additional information or to refer a resident to the program, please contact 0457 001 618 or email


Download a PDF of this story.