Ellen:
Hello, and welcome back to the Potential Psychology Podcast. I'm Ellen, I'm your host, and I am enjoying the wonderful sense of possibility and renewal that comes with springtime. When the sun comes out a little more than it has in previous months, the tender green buds are emerging on the somewhat bare trees, and here in Ballarat, we see the cute, fluffy gray signets, the baby black swans waddling with their parents around our lake, Lake Wendouree. It's a glorious time of anticipation as we look forward to summer, but haven't yet started to complain about the heat.

Ellen:
Now, did you know that tomorrow, September the 12th, is R U OK? Day, here in Australia. Of course, tomorrow may not be September the 12th, depending on when you're listening to this episode, but right now, as we hit the air, tomorrow is September the 12th and R U OK? Day.

Ellen:
And for those who perhaps don't know about R U OK? Day, and if you're listening somewhere in the big wide world outside of Australia, you might not. The mission of R U OK? Day is to inspire and empower everyone to meaningfully connect with the people around us. And particularly, to start a conversation with anyone who might be struggling with life and its challenges.

Ellen:
I'm really pleased to be able to bring you today's episode, just prior to R U OK? Day, because I feel that in all of our conversations about wellbeing and mental health, particularly across our community, there's a section of our population that we neglect, who don't get the discussion that they deserve. And from today's interview, clearly need. And that's our older adult population.

Ellen:
So let's open up that conversation a little today with my wonderful guest.

Ellen:
I have with me today Doctor Julie Patrick-Smith, and we're talking about the wellbeing of older adults. Particularly those in aged care, or entering aged care homes. Julie is a psychologist and an aged care psychology consultant. She's one of the very few psychologists who specialize in this field and she's on a mission to change the landscape of psychological support and wellbeing in aged care. She's got a three-pronged attack or approach. She works with Allied Health workers to get them more involved in aged care. She support employees within aged care to better understand and manage the psychological needs of their clients. And she aides families to go from being overwhelmed and confused about the aged care transition, to becoming a vital support network for their loved ones. Welcome Julie.

Julie:
Thank you Ellen. Thank you so much for having me today.

Ellen:
I'm excited to talk to you because it's not a topic that people talk about very much. I'll ask you shortly about why it's also not an area that psychologists have traditionally gone into. But it's not a topic that we talk about very much, so I'm keen to learn, particularly from you firstly, just a little bit about yourself, and how you came to specialize in aged care?

Julie:
You're exactly right. Aged care is not something that people often talk about. And not only that, not many Allied Health professionals specialize in working in this population, particularly those in mental health.

Julie:
I stumbled across aged care about 10 years ago. A bit more than that. I was asked to do some assessment one day in an aged care facility for a sister company where I worked in occupational rehabilitation. And I just remember thinking how rewarding it was to work with people who genuinely need our help and genuinely need non pharmacological strategies to improve the quality of their life at that late stage where perhaps their physical health has been compromised.

Julie:
So my workload has changed a lot over the course of the last 10 years. Initially, I started off by providing services to the elderly, less ambulant people who live in their own homes and those who entered into aged care. And in the past three years, since completing my PhD, I've been working closely with aged care staff, and training other psychologists to tap into aged care.

Ellen:
Okay, so you started doing the work yourself, and you're now doing the kind of foray into helping develop the field more generally through others, would that be right?

Julie:
Absolutely. I realize that I'm one person, and there's only so many appointments I can do in a day, and that it's not so much about the work that I do one-on-one with clients and seeing them, it's more so about the workforce. So I'm talking about people who work in the community settings and aged care settings who deal with clients who are isolated, depressed, lonely, secondary to their physical health issues, and who really struggle to motivate them to have those very important conversations. Up skilling other psychologists to help as well, up skilling the skills of the families who really might be finding it difficult to cope with what's wrong with their loved one's health, and more broadly, the aged care workforce.

Ellen:
Okay, so that's that three-pronged attack really, looking at helping the workforces, the families, and then Allied Health as a profession. So Julie, can you tell me a bit more about what are some of the issues that are facing the aged care population? Why is there this need to develop this field?

Julie:
Well, as we get older, our level of engagement with community, our independence, our support network changes. Only a very small percentage of older Australians move into residential care. We're talking about less than 5%. But it is an issue when you go through grief and loss, which we all do at some stage in our lives, and more so about the accumulative effect of what can happen as we're getting older.

Julie:
You know, when people retire, how they spend their time and how they engage in meaningful activities. How they participate in physical activity, social interactions, and particularly if they are less ambulant and able to get out-and-about, how does that affect them and their wellbeing.

Julie:
It is well known that women and men age quite differently. That women tend to have stronger social connections, and that for men, when they retire, they find it a bit more difficult to fulfill their days. I'm speaking generally here. Obviously, there are a lot of individual differences. But with any changes that could happen to an older person's health, support network, their financial situation, all these factors can contribute towards changes in their emotional wellbeing and their level of support.

Ellen:
So it's really quite a holistic approach that you're dealing with here. You're not just looking, obviously, there are mental health issues that arise and I think most people are reasonably aware of the physical health issues that might occur for this population, this group of people. But things like, I was just, as you were speaking, thinking, "Oh yeah, financial stuff. Hadn't thought about that. Yeah, that could change just how you live." All of these things we know about, you know, what contributes to wellbeing generally, about that connectedness with other people, about being able to engage in our community, about having a sense of meaning and purpose, and doing those sorts of things. If they feel constrained or were less able to do them as we get older, that can't help but have an impact, can it?

Julie:
Absolutely. When you think about an older person, if they have changes in their five senses, if they can't hear as well, if they can't see as well, how does that affect their interactions, their engagement? If they have worries about their finances, how do they hear that reassurance from family that things are going to be okay?

Julie:
There's a lot of worries about moving into residential care because of the financial implications. And often, families don't necessarily have those discussions, because things could change overnight. An older person might have a fall, they might have a stroke. They might have something that happens quite suddenly, and whereby they're hospitalized and moved into aged care rather quickly.

Julie:
And so you're dealing with the shock and adjustment of what has happened to them. The change in environment and the change in their independence, their mobility. And suddenly, they find themselves in a very unfamiliar environment, which is perhaps not as easy to accept, given everything else that might be going on with them and the changes that they need to adapt to with their physical health.

Julie:
As I mentioned, it is not a large portion of population that moves into aged care, but as we have aging population, more and more older people, the numbers are quite staggering. We've got nearly 300,000 people in aged care facilities in Australia.

Julie:
So it's a very large population on one end, and on the other, you do have a lot of elderly people living in their own homes, who might still have health conditions, but they haven't, or maybe they're waiting to move into an aged care facility because of their support needs, or they've got families, or they've got finances behind them to support them to remain in their own homes.

Julie:
So the mental health of older adults really varies according to a number of factors. Their health status, the environment, and all those other factors, as well as finance that can impact it.

Julie:
We know that in the community people are mentally a lot healthier, as opposed to residential care. In residential care, the latest research shows that one in two residents have symptoms of depression. So that is very alarming in many ways, and we need to do something about it.

Ellen:
Yeah, because as you were saying just earlier about that fact, and again, something I probably hadn't really thought about, but how quickly something could change. And I can only imagine if you're a family member of somebody who has perhaps had a stroke, or a fall that's led them to be significantly impaired in some way, and there has been a requirement to move into an aged care home or facility, that, just by nature of how we operate as a society, our focus would be very much on physical health. So what medication they might need, what tests they might need, what medical support they might need.

Ellen:
And I can well imagine that particularly, with that focus and the fact that we don't talk about it as a community, that very little time or attention might be given to what kind of emotional support do people need? What sort of, how are we going to keep people engaged with their community, or their friendship group, or any of those sorts of things.

Julie:
Absolutely. Mental health conditions in older people are not detected as easily. Doctors are very busy and have limited time with patients. You know, we're talking about 10 minute consults where they need to review medication, any physical symptoms that they have. And so mental health is not something that is discussed as openly.

Julie:
Older people also might not realize that the symptoms that they have, the physical symptoms that they have could be related to their depression or anxiety, or adjustment difficulties.

Julie:
So there's a lot to unpack in that area, in terms of educating families, and the workforce, and older people themselves about what types of symptoms they might experience when they have depression or anxiety. Anxiety, in my experience, has often been a trigger to personality traits. And depression in older people is masked by far more physical symptoms than in younger populations.

Julie:
So a younger person is not going to talk to you about their pain, or about their memory problems as much as an older person is. But, if depression is treated in an older person, their memory can in fact improve. So we're not just assuming that depression and dementia are a normal part of aging.

Ellen:
Yeah. Yeah, because there are, I mean, we do know that depression has an impact on cognitive function, and certainly, that kind of awareness of pain, those pain management techniques that I know some of our colleagues use, which is very much around how do we find ways to, not so much focus on the pain, if you know what I mean? And I can imagine again, that would be particularly if the mindset of somebody in that age group and those people around them, both the medical professionals and also their families that, "Well you're old, of course you're going to feel pain." And sort of the talking about it just re emphasizes it. And yet, as you say, it might not be a physical aspect. It might be... And I knows that body-mind connection is complicated, isn't it? But yes, so interesting.

Julie:
It really is, and it is something that is quite difficult to unpack and when I train other mental health professionals how to get into aged care, we do also cover that aspect, about how you engage with the older person and how you approach them, because I certainly had an experience of having a referral to see someone and the older person, in the initial couple of meetings, being so petrified that maybe the result of my assessment would mean that they need to get more psychiatric help, that they need to move into institution behind the facility, that they're going to be moved elsewhere.

Julie:
So there's a lot of fear associated with mental health in older people. I understand for a lot of people growing up, mental health was not something that you talk about, and it was something certainly seen as a sign of weakness, and you just tended to get on with it. I can particularly see that in my clients who have had history of trauma, of war. They've never had any treatment or support for what they've gone through, but in their late life, they're finding it very difficult to adjust to being in residential care, because they don't have the skills in how to adapt to that new environment with changes in their physical health as well.

Julie:
So perhaps earlier in their life, they had different strategies how they coped with their anxiety or with their depression, but now that they are not driving, not able to engage in those pleasant activities that they need to initiate themselves, we need... This is why I'm really focused on up skilling the workforce in how to tackle those issues and how to support older people, because Ellen, we're not having enough discussions about mental health with older people. We're not having enough discussions on how to help people, and the old model of aged care was very much focused on, "Okay, quickly send a referral to the GP, and then..." You know? "Oh, but who's going to go and see them?"

Julie:
We must have more conversation. The highest rates of suicide in Australia are in men aged 85, plus. And so this is an alarming statistic. Especially now with the R U OK? Day, 12th of September this year, it really is important to have those conversations and not to be afraid to ask them, because I think there's a lot of fear within the workforce and the wider community to ask people how they're feeling in fear of, "Well, if I ask that question how, what if they respond like, "What do I do about it?"" But it really doesn't actually cost us anything to ask someone how they're feeling, and it can certainly change the demographics of our statistics.

Ellen:
Yeah, absolutely. And Julie, when you are working with Allied Health professionals, or anybody I suppose, particularly around I'm interested because of that notion that struck me too, that older adults, the generations that come from the background, we still do have a fair bit of stigma around mental health, that I could imagine that could be particularly fearful topic perhaps, than perhaps it is now for our younger generation. So how do you work with the trainees that you're working with? So, other psychologists, or Allied Health professionals, and perhaps families to overcome a bit of that resistance to perhaps spark those conversations that they might need to have whether on R U OK? Day, or any other day?

Julie:
I look at non pharmacological strategies that we can use to boost wellbeing, and it's well documented that reminiscence and life review is very effective with older people. So rather than focusing on skills that they may not have at the moment, because they find it difficult accepting the fact that they can't make their favorite Christmas pudding anymore, or that they can't go bush walking.

Julie:
We talk about different stages in their life, [inaudible 00:18:25] or building up those rich stories, which really builds up on their confidence [inaudible 00:18:33], sense of value. And even if they've had some difficulties. You know, I had a client tell me about how his car broke down in Central Australia and how he had to spend a couple of nights in the desert.

Julie:
He was more so talking about how he overcame those challenges. And so, by using reminiscence and large review, other Allied Health professionals or trainees, and families are able to build on those skills and strengths, because we're working with resilience, and we're working with the abilities of older people, rather than focusing on their disabilities. I hope that makes sense.

Ellen:
It does. Look, it makes perfect sense, particularly to me, because I work in the field of positive psychology. So it really is looking at what are the past successes, what are the things that we know that are working well and really looking at a solution focused approach I suppose.

Julie:
Yeah.

Ellen:
Building on what we know works, rather than trying to fix what isn't working, or talking about, as you say, their disablement or what they've lost. So trying to spark those positive thoughts, those positive feelings that we know contribute to that greater sense of wellbeing and resilience.

Julie:
And in a broader sense, what this also means for aged care providers, given that they've had new quality standards introduced as of first of July, it really is about delivering that person-centered approach, and ensuring that the activities offered in aged care homes are in line with the older person's interests, abilities, and skills.

Julie:
So gone are the days where they would just have random activities, bingo and musicals that people might not necessarily be interested in. We know that music is very effective for depression and anxiety, but it's also about tailoring it to make sure that it's in line with that person's interests.

Julie:
So, I know for so long now, visiting an aged care home, and you see they've put on musical on [inaudible 00:20:41] DVD, or on repeat, again and again, and no one listens to that.

Julie:
So it's about how we can work more effectively with music. How can we bring on site a music therapist who can engage with a small group of residents, get them involved with creating music, bringing those pleasant memories back, and incorporating that into their daily activities.

Ellen:
Yeah, wonderful. Did you happen to catch Doctor Sarah McKay, who's been a past guest on the podcast, and she hosted an episode of The Catalyst Program on the ABC recently about brain health, and one of the little experiments that she was part of as part of that program was exactly what you've just described. They had a music therapist come on, and they set up a choir within this aged care facility, and we got to meet some of the participants and hear a little bit about their stories, and she was then tracking things like stress levels and quality of sleep. It was a really lovely example.

Ellen:
She and the other therapist, whose name I've forgotten, at the end of it were in tears as they watched this choir perform. You could see these people light up, and they had their family and friends there as part of the audience. It was a wonderful real life example of exactly what you've just described.

Julie:
I've just come back from overseas, so I think I missed that episode, but there's just more and more awareness about different ways that we can enhance on the skills and abilities of older people. Music is so beneficial, as is art therapy. I've had the privilege of working with some amazing art therapists who have really helped a number of older adults in terms of their emotional wellbeing by allowing them to express themselves in art.

Julie:
Again, a few years ago, all you would see in aged care facilities would be coloring books and less of that person-centered approach to art therapy. But if you have the right people who know how to engage that activity, you can see some amazing outcomes. And so, in a couple of facilities that I've been to, I've seen amazing artworks that they have created. People did not necessarily have a background in painting. And they use different mediums, and they work with people with different abilities.

Julie:
So as opposed to thinking of someone, "Oh, you know, they have dementia, they have this, they have that." You can actually see, "Well they can still create." I spoke with an art therapist a couple of weeks ago, and she said she had this gentleman who had advanced dementia, and he had lots of behaviors. She got him to come along to an art class, and he drew this amazing bird, and everyone was so blown away with what he was actually able to do as opposed to being described as someone with challenging behaviors and difficulties.

Julie:
So there's still a lot that older people can contribute to society, and there's still a lot that they can do, it's just about how we extract that information from them, and remind them that they're still very important.

Ellen:
Yeah, so really that, absolutely, they're personalizing and working with the individual to uncover what is going to excite, or stretch, or inspire, or contribute to their wellbeing. And then yeah, taking that much more positive approach to saying, "Let's not focus on what you can't do, let's focus on what you can do."

Julie:
Yes. Yes. And this is something Ellen, that will still take time to be embedded into day-to-day services. I mean, I want that change of focus from staff who come in and say, "Oh Mr. Brown, we're here to shower you." And Mr. Brown getting all stressed about, having complete strangers or members of the opposite sex, much younger than him, helping with activities. But making it into a pleasant experience for the older person, and using that time to talk about something other than just the task at hand.

Ellen:
Yeah, so that might be an opportunity, as much as a distraction as anything else, to reminisce about something that they've achieved in the past, or to talk about the fact that they've got maybe grandchildren coming to visit, or something other like that.

Julie:
Yeah, or something that's on site that day, that will encourage them to leave their room and reduce that isolation.

Ellen:
Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Julie:
Because in reality, some of those clients, the only contact they might have with someone is by having someone who comes and assists them with their personal care, as opposed to getting involved and engaged with activities.

Ellen:
So you talked then about part of your goal, which is to try and improve this impersonalization to give people who work in the field, the skills and the confidence to do things perhaps a little differently than how it's been done in the past. And within that, that's a bigger goal that you've got there to boost the wellbeing of older adults in Australia. And indeed, is it to have the depression-

Julie:
Yes.

Ellen:
... depression rate. So yeah, you've stated that as a goal that you've got. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?

Julie:
Well, depression is very, very prevalent in aged care facilities, and if we're not addressing it adequately, I can't see how things will change anytime soon. The impact of poor mental health in clients has much broader issues in terms of the workforce, their job satisfaction. We have staggering rates of staff turnover in aged care. And for families, it's also quite difficult, because they're seeing the changes in their loved one's physical health, but also emotional as well. And that can affect them in their own wellbeing.

Julie:
So if we look at ways of how we can create mentally healthy aged care facilities, we're likely to see a broader impact on that in the entire environment. So we want to see improved mental health outcomes for an older person in their late life. Families being more involved and being able to support their loved one. As well as the workers feeling confident and feeling able in their skills and their knowledge base around mental health.

Ellen:
So you provide training to employees within aged care facilities, and for those organizations that run these facilities.

Julie:
Yep.

Ellen:
And you also provide, I know you have on your website, some support and resources available for families perhaps to have these conversations.

Julie:
Yes, I have an online resource for families specifically, in how to emotionally support their loved one's adjustment into an aged care facility. A number of strategies, evidence based strategies, that they can use when they go and do visits. I know that for families, it is quite difficult when their loved one moves into a facility, and how they should go about supporting them, and what's the right way to do, how often should I visit, how [inaudible 00:27:41] be away.

Julie:
And so, my approach to that really is about encouraging families to help their loved one adjust to being in a home, which includes looking at what is on offer on site, and helping older adults attend those activities, integrating them into that new environment, rather than spending time in the older person's bedroom and coming and going and not mixing as much with other residents or activities, or with staff.

Julie:
Or also, what I see, is older person getting picked up to go on an outing with the family, which is lovely, and it's very important that that's done, but if families are not engaging with the environment, the older person is also less likely to do that themselves.

Ellen:
Yeah, I think that's a great tip. I'm thinking back to visiting my grandfather when he was in his, he lived till he was 93. So he did very well.

Julie:
Right.

Ellen:
And we did go to visit him. But you're right, we didn't tend to, we tended to go and visit him in his room, and we'd all kind of pile in there. But there wasn't so much, and I know, I wasn't nearly as actively involved. My mom and her sisters were far more actively involved. So I'm not entirely sure what they did. But the idea of just getting people out and perhaps walking around the garden together, or going and checking out what the activities that are on, or engaging with other staff while you're there. You could perhaps facilitate more of a conversation. Or lots of other different things that you could do, beyond just sitting in their room and talking.

Julie:
Absolutely, because if the older person is just sitting in their room, what tend to happen is that they'll sit in that room, waiting for family, rather than attend activities. I've seen that time, and time again. The older person is sitting, waiting for their daughter, and then it's like, "Oh no, it's Tuesday. She'll be here on Thursday." So they're missing out on activities on site, because they don't want to miss out on seeing their loved one, and they worry that if their daughter, or son, or grandchild comes and visit them, that they won't be able to find them if they are participating in activity.

Julie:
So they might spend a lot of time on their own, and we know that isolation is, it's really detrimental to anyone's wellbeing, particularly older persons. So if family can help them attend activities and facilitate them, then they go, "Oh yes, you know, my daughter knows that this is where I will be, because I do enjoy discussion group, or I do enjoy exercises, or I do enjoy music." And so they're more likely to leave the room, rather than just sit there and be on their own.

Julie:
So I think it's just, yeah, families play a huge role, and often they might not know what is the right way to go about it, and what to do. So in my booklet I... the booklet is personalized, I do have hard copies, I do have e-copies of that as well. So it does allow for the assessment of older person, their interests, and how often they've engaged in that pleasant activity in the past month, and looking for opportunities where visits can be enhanced and how to go about it, step-by-step.

Ellen:
So some wonderful tips in there. What about the Allied Health professionals? As we said right at the beginning there's a lack of people who've gone into this field, and even just from our conversation thus far today, it's really opened my mind up to just how important this is, and how, perhaps even in some ways behind we are in terms of thinking and talking about the mental health and wellbeing of older adults.

Ellen:
I know now there's a lot of conversation about young people and young people's mental health, and the suicide rate, which is vital, but yeah, we don't hear these same conversations about people in their older years.

Ellen:
So why is there this lack of mental health professionals who work in the field do you think?

Julie:
There's number of reasons for that. First off, especially in psychology, gerontology is not covered as part of the compulsory content in undergraduate studies, even post graduate. I've supervised a number of clinical psychologists who were completing their studies and this was their last placement, and a number of them had uncertainties as to what kind of clinical presentations they would see in aged care homes. And their clinical component did not necessarily reflect their theoretical component at university as to how to work with this population.

Julie:
The big issue is that these clients are not ambulant, so you're not going to see them as often in a clinical setting. They're not going to arrange transport to come and see you in your consulting room. I think that there's a lot of fear and reservation in mental health professionals to work with this population, because they're worried about their safety, and they're worried about issues that they might encounter seeing clients outside of that clinical setting.

Julie:
So part of what I teach others is really in how we tackle that and how we look at ways of how we can support people who really are quite vulnerable and have a number of barriers to be able to get out and come and see us in our consulting rooms.

Julie:
I think that a lot of mental health professionals are amazing at what they do in their jobs, but it's just getting that concept around, "No, you actually need to go out there and see the client, as opposed to expect them to come to your rooms," will take a bit of time to adjust to.

Julie:
So what's happening is that there's just so few mental health professionals who specialize in that, because of those reasons. I know for a fact when I go to a nursing home, or even if I do a talk in a retirement village, "Can we have your business card? Can we see you? Can we..." You know?

Julie:
I think it's so important to train more... others to be able to do that, because you will have that security of, "Yes, you will have a flow of referrals. Yes, you will, and you might not need to pay for your rooms for the day because you will be able to go and see people in an aged care facility." And we talk about those issues that they're concerned about, their safety and the likes, because a lot of those people, even if they live in their own homes, they're used to receiving services. So it really is about making sure that the mental health professional feels confident about doing something perhaps a bit outside the square.

Ellen:
Yeah, and I can imagine that there would be, I think that lack of exposure perhaps through training, the fact that the conversations aren't had, that gerontology is not addressed as part of the core competencies, or the core syllabus or curriculum, that's the word I'm looking for, and then perhaps there isn't the placements that you might have in other fields. But listening to you I'm thinking, "You know actually, I can imagine there would be a lot of psychs or perhaps trainee psychs now who quite like the idea of getting out and going off elsewhere, rather than just sitting in a room and having people come to them every day."

Ellen:
To get involved, not just with this population, but then with quite an eclectic and wide range of other therapies and therapists like the art therapy, like the music therapy. Like both the medical professionals, the nursing professionals, the care. You know, that, I'm sure, would very much appeal to some up and coming mental health clinicians if they know that that's something that a) you can do, and b) there's a real need for.

Julie:
Absolutely. So I offer a four-week program for mental health professionals on how to tap into aged care, because they do have the skills in delivering clinical services. And treatment of depression is very similar across the lifespan, because older people also respond to cognitive behavioral therapies, and so you don't necessarily need to change the core component of how you deliver services. It's more so about looking at those peripheral issues, which I really help them establish how to work within that aged care setting, and how to engage with aged care staff, and how to engage with clients, and how to address a number of those concerns.

Julie:
I also do peer supervision with psychologists who work in aged care. There's been a lot of difficulty for aged care psychologists to connect with one another. So I do monthly peer supervision with them, and we do it online, because issue for a lot of them is traveling and getting to a place, and often they can spend more time commuting and getting to supervision as opposed to actually receiving supervision itself.

Julie:
So I do small group meetings. We meet once a month in the evening online and we have opportunity to discuss different cases, and strategies, and resources that we can share. That's been very successful and I've been doing that for quite a few years now. It fills my heart to see more and more people get into aged care with appropriate training and support, because we do need to improve those mental health outcomes for older people, regardless of where they live.

Ellen:
Yeah. Look Julie, you've absolutely opened my mind to a whole field that I hadn't really... You know, I started thinking, it was actually just on the back of a conversation that I had recently with someone about end of life, and the fact that it isn't a topic that we talk about much. And suddenly, the little light bulb went off and I went, "Ooh, that's a podcast topic. Who can I find?" And I'm so glad that I've found you and that we've been able to have this conversation to give people some thoughts about the mental health and wellbeing of this as a population, but also what our roles, whether we are clinicians, whether we are family members, whether we're just general members of the public who have an interest in helping everybody to thrive and flourish, and what can we do to help.

Ellen:
I think you've really sparked some ideas for me, and hopefully for our audience too, about how to start to work in a field, you know, really help this population to thrive and flourish as I said. I think that's a wonderful goal, and I think you've laid some fantastic groundwork there across three different important populations.

Julie:
Yes. Thank you, Ellen. I really am so passionate about this and I think that having seen a number of improvements in clients and clinical outcomes, and not only in clients, improvement in the confidence of the workforce, it really has been so encouraging to keep doing what I'm doing, and to really highlight the issue of, the importance of wellness in late life.

Julie:
I've had a number of older adults who've moved into aged care homes and initially they found it difficult, but with the right support, they're actually better, and they are thriving. And despite the health setbacks that they may have had, they're going on bus trips. They're enjoying, they really are making the most of their time in aged care home, or even their own home if they haven't moved into aged care. But they're doing well, and it's just about receiving the right support, and knowing how to go about it that they can achieve those outcomes.

Ellen:
And I think that's a wonderfully positive perspective to take on the situation, because we hear so much about the dismal and the doom and gloom, but to be able to take that positive approach and really look at how do we help? And then to have been able to see that yourself, it must be enormously gratifying to see those outcomes.

Julie:
Absolutely. Absolutely. And supporting the families as well, because they're going through this difficulty, and giving them the right resources to say, "Hey, this is what you can actually do." As opposed to, "Oh, it's too late. Give up, and this is it." You know, there's a lot of ways that they can actually improve their relationship with their loved one using the right support and strategies.

Ellen:
Wonderful. Julie, if we have inspired, and I'm sure we have, our listeners to find out a little bit more and to think more deeply on this particular topic, where can they find you?

Julie:
They can find me on wisecare.com.au.

Ellen:
So that's the name of your consulting business, Wise Care. Yeah, so wisecare.com.au. We will put a link to that in the show notes for this episode, as well as a link to some of the tips that you've provided, particularly for families who are wanting to support their loved ones. And are there any other tips or resources that you'd like to share or recommend?

Julie:
Yes. I have quite a few resources on my website that they can download for free. It includes information on how to engage conversation, or how to start conversation with a loved one who might have cognitive change [inaudible 00:40:57]. How to start conversations with older people in general. So there's quite a few resources that, if you visit my website, you can download for free.

Ellen:
And you have a podcast yourself, do you not?

Julie:
I do have a podcast myself. The Voice of Aged Care, where I interview quite a wide range of people who work with the elderly, and we really look at those non pharmacological strategies that they use to boost wellbeing in older people.

Ellen:
Wonderful, so that's a must listen, The Voice of Aged Care. For anybody who wants to learn a little more, or delve a little more deeply into what sounds like a fascinating and enormously satisfying field. Julie, thank you so much for your time today. I really appreciate it.

Julie:
Thank you, Ellen. I'm very glad that you've invited me to be a guest on your show.

Ellen:
And I wish you all the very best of luck, although I'm confident that you don't need it, in pursuing your great mission and three-pronged attack to help really change the landscape and wellbeing of the aged care sector.

Julie:
Thank you.

Ellen:
As I said during that interview, I really hope that Julie has inspired you to think about the older adults in your life, and to consider how you might be able to support them to thrive and flourish.

Ellen:
I really applaud Julie for the work she's doing, for getting so actively involved in her field, and setting herself big goals to really make a difference. It's wonderful stuff, and I'm so glad that we've been able to bring this episode and this conversation out into the world to align with R U OK? Day. And to generate some conversation about the wellbeing in older adults. We'll all be there one day with a bit of luck.

Ellen:
If you'd like to find out more about Julie, her business Wise Care, her podcast; The Voice of Aged Care, and to tap into those resources that she mentioned, we've put the links to everything in the show notes for this episode. So pop over to potential.com.au/podcast.

Ellen:
We are coming to the close of this season of the podcast with only two episodes left. So if you'd like to know when we're back and what's coming up for next season, please join the Potential Psychology email community. I send semi regular emails to the community to keep you up-to-date with episodes, news and events. Articles and resources that I've discovered that I think you might like and find helpful. And you can get all of that in your inbox if you join in at potential.com.au/subscribe.

Ellen:
And finally, thank you so much if you're one of the wonderful listeners who's recently left a review and rating of the Potential Psychology Podcast on Apple Podcasts. I realize that this is not nearly as easy to do as we'd like it to be. So I really do appreciate the time and effort and commitment that you've shown to get that review written and out there into podcast review land.

Ellen:
And if you are keen to review the podcast, and I do read and appreciate every review, I've included a link to a great how-to write up for podcast reviews. So that's in the sidebar of the podcast page on my website. So that's over at potential.com.au/podcast.

Ellen:
What's coming up next week? Well, I am talking to Jared White, who is a Melbourne based clinical psychologist, and we're going to throw around a few ideas about the future of mental health and mental health support. Jared is the co-founder of The Lives of Others, which provides an online platform for people to share their mental health and mental ill health stories.

Ellen:
He's really interested in how we can provide mental health services in different formats to traditional one-on-one therapy. So how can we reach bigger groups and different audiences, and what are we missing by being in a therapy room? It's a topic that aligns beautifully with our purpose here at the podcast, and I'm really excited to be bringing that conversation to you.

Ellen:
But until then, go forth and thrive, and flourish, and fulfill your potential, and I will speak to you soon.