English The Importance of Maintaining Connection for the Mental Health of Older Adults in Residential Aged Care: Lessons from COVID-19
This paper analyses the impact of residential aged care facilities visitation policies during the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of older adults. Investigating the long-standing mental health issues of residents in aged care and the role that families play in providing social and emotional support for residents. The Royal Commission into Aged Care Health and Safety has made significant contributions to the question of residential aged care facilities’ capacity to support the mental health of older adults. Families have played an important role in reporting abuse and neglect and monitoring the health and wellbeing of loved ones and making their absence during COVID-19 a risk factor for abuse and neglect. Emancipatory practice is proposed for social workers to advocate for the rights of residents to maintain connected to their families and the wider community. To address the psycho-social support gap in residential aged care for older adults an integrated biopsychosocial model and person-centred approach is suggested for a policy and cultural shift from solely clinical care to holistic residential aged care.