The Australian Nursing Federation said figures showing nursing home residents are experiencing high rates of depression is a reminder that we need more skilled staff, such as nurse practitioners, in the aged care sector.

ANF federal secretary, Lee Thomas said well staffed nursing homes would result in better health for residents. "Nurse practitioners could recognise and treat mental health issues in aged care residents."

Ms Thomas said General Manager of Navitas Health Skills Australia(HSA), Chris White's comments today that one third of Australia's 180,000 aged care residents are estimated to be living with depression is a stark reminder that older Australians need specialised care.

"There is a currently a situation whereby depression and anxiety amongst aged care residents often goes unnoticed. These residents can suffer from a combination of ailments that make it more difficult to diagnose a mental health issue," she said.

"More nurse practitioners (NP) in aged care would mean nursing home residents have access to specialised care. NPs are highly qualified nurses who can care for resident's mental and physical health insuring one does not have a detrimental impact on the other."

Ms Thomas said she was concerned at HAS's comments indicating 34.7 per cent of aged care residents experience depression, significantly higher than the 10 to 15 per cent incidence rate found in the general older population.

"Depression is not a natural part of ageing. We must ensure that people are not suffering unnecessarily through untreated depression or anxiety."

Australian Nursing Federation

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