Our counselling in care homes project is set to resume. We had intended to begin this project early in 2020 and by March 2020 we were all set; we had ethical approval, we had care homes on board to participate, we had recruited and trained the BACP members to deliver counselling. Unfortunately, the global pandemic meant we would not be able to go into care homes to run this project. We put the project on hold but were determined to find an alternative approach to move forward.

In September 2020 we decided to resume the project by offering video or telephone counselling to care home residents rather than face to face.

Why is this project needed?

Although many people live well within care homes, it is estimated that 60% of those living in residential care have poor mental health (Age Concern and Mental Health Foundation, 2006) and 40% suffer from depression (The Royal College of General Practitioners, 2014). The transition into living in a care home can be a difficult time for many, associated with a loss of independence. For many there may be a normal process of adjusting to the loss of their previous life and independence, and in time they will feel better in their new situation. For others this loss may develop into depression which requires support from a mental health professional.

The prevalence rate for antidepressant prescribing in care homes has been reported to be nearly four times greater than for older people living in the community (Harris, Carey, Shah, Dewilde and Cook, 2012). It is important that living in a care home does not become a barrier to an individual receiving the care they need. If an individual living independently experiences symptoms of depression or any other mental health problem they have the right to seek support from a mental health professional. An individual living within a care home has those same rights and it is important that support is available when it is needed to ensure that the person is cared for in a manner that upholds the standards of the Care Quality Commission – to be responsive, effective and safe.

What are we aiming to do?

This study aims to provide proof of concept of how counselling could be implemented within care homes. The service delivery model to be evaluated has developed from in-depth consultation with care home managers, care teams and counsellors who all have extensive experience of care homes. We hope to use the findings to inform further research in collaboration with academic partners.

If you’d like more information about this project, please email Dr Jo Pybis at research@bacp.co.uk