Round table meeting Scotland, 22 March 2019

17 BACP members with experience of working with older clients in private practice and within the voluntary sector shared their experiences and discussed barriers and enablers to older people accessing therapy in Scotland.

Members at the Older people round table meeting in Scotland

Key points that emerged from the day included:

  • counselling offers support to make sense of later life transitions and restore or renew identity
  • language of ‘mental health’ and alignment with mental health services can present barriers to engagement
  • encouragement to access counselling comes from trusted sources – friends, family, GP

Notes from our Older people round table meeting in Scotland (pdf 0.4MB)

Round table meeting Northern Ireland, 12 December 2018

Members in Northern Ireland shared their experiences of work with older clients, reflecting on how our older people strategy can support their work.

Delegates at the older people round table meeting

Discussion included the particular challenges presented by the legacy of ‘the troubles’ and the important role that counselling has to play in supporting the post-conflict society.

Key points that emerged from the day included:

  • many people still need to process the residual pain and sorrow after living through violence and conflict
  • counselling builds resilience – and resilience builds communities
  • there is a highly-qualified counselling workforce in Northern Ireland that is under-used

Notes from our Older people round table meeting in Northern Ireland (pdf 0.6MB)

Round table meeting Wales, 22 September 2018

“It’s an enormous privilege to work with older clients and to enable them to tell their stories.”

This comment at our meeting in Cardiff was universally recognised by members who work with older people.

Wales has the oldest and most rapidly ageing population in the UK. The physical and emotional wellbeing of older people is often further challenged by the rural and isolated locations in which they live, making it difficult for them to reach or be reached by valuable services.

The meeting focused on how we can work together to identify and overcome barriers to older people accessing therapy in Wales. The picture that emerged through discussions is a complex one involving stigma and deep-rooted beliefs about mental health and reluctance amongst some older people to ask for help, as well as reduced provision of services that previously reached into isolated rural communities, but that have vanished with funding cuts.

Our take-home message from the day is that action is needed to better define and explain counselling to older people. Using familiar and trusted networks and voices to convey the value of talking therapies and extending choice is essential.

We're very grateful to everyone who attended and look forward to developing these ideas in support of the work of members in Wales.

Notes from our Older people round table meeting in September 2018 (pdf 0.6MB)

Jeremy Bacon, Older People lead