People of different ages faced different challenges due to the pandemic; everyone had to adjust and adapt to new situations and regulations. Residential care communities like assisted living facilities (ALF) struggled especially. Elderly residents found it hard to come to terms with limited social contacts. As a result, on-staff psychiatrists saw their workload increase.
While hiring more staff is one solution to address ever-increasing workloads, other options exist. Introducing a comprehensive behavioral health care program is one of the best options for ALF communities and other employers. These programs simultaneously support living on-staff psychiatrists and aid the team and clients.
America’s Mental Health Crisis
When Mind Share Partners surveyed Americans for their 2019 Mental Health at Work Report, 60% of the respondents admitted to having experienced mental health symptoms during the previous year. While not all symptoms develop into a mental health condition, they indicate that action is needed.
As we are nearing the middle of 2022, people worldwide are trying to cope with the effects of having lived through two years of the coronavirus pandemic. Right now, nearly one in five American adults is experiencing a mental illness, according to Mental Health America. This number is equivalent to about 50 million people.
There are marked differences between individual states, with more than 26% of Utah residents suffering from mental health conditions. In New Jersey, the number is lower on the east coast at just over 16%.
Out of all adults suffering from mental health challenges, seniors are one of the hardest-hit groups. Throughout the pandemic, those living in residential care settings suffered from a lack of social contact and the mental health challenges resulting from that. Combined with declining health and the difficulties of transitioning from fully independent living to a form of residential care, COVID-19 created a vicious circle.
Increasing Pressure on On-Staff Psychiatrists
No one could have foreseen the duration of the pandemic and the pressures it put on residential care facilities, their teams, and their clients.
On-staff psychiatrists addressed the challenges their colleagues and clients were facing. But without additional support, many found themselves stretched thin and unable to devote as much time to their patients as they wanted.
Hiring additional on-staff psychiatrists is one solution to prevent overworking and ensure that every client reserves the level of care they deserve. However, modern mental health care offers more accessible solutions.
How Behavioral Health Care Supports Staff Psychiatrists
Being truly healthy means more than being free from illness and injury. Health can only be complete if physical health and mental health balance. One of the most effective ways to achieve that balance is through a comprehensive behavioral health program.
Behavioral health care benefits everyone within an ALF community: elderly residents, their care team, and the on-staff psychiatrist. Behavioral health care is often mentioned in conjunction with mental health care, but the approaches are different.
While mental health care considers a person’s state of mind, behavioral health care focuses on cognitive behaviors that support physical and psychological health. Establishing those behaviors, reactivating, and maintaining them are three of the main pillars of comprehensive behavioral health care.
Behavioral Health Care for Residents
Most residents of any residential care facility struggled through the coronavirus pandemic. As medical experts were learning more about the virus and working on creating the most suitable response, residents needed to limit social contacts.
Unfortunately, a lack of social contact is one of the leading causes of mental health problems. It is also one of the focus areas of behavioral health care for ALF residents. Within an assisted living scenario, the most apparent social contacts for residents are other residents. But the opportunities do not stop there.
Researchers have found that the most beneficial scenario is a combination of contacts, including residents, the facility’s staff, and family members. Making new contacts is not always easy for new residents. Behavioral health training can help remove the obstacles.
Other focus areas of behavioral health for residents are eating habits and medication management. Moreover, behavioral health support can play a huge role in easing the transition into assisted living.
Behavioral Health Care for Team Members
Offering comprehensive behavioral health care also benefits a residential care facility’s team.
Staff members learn to recognize the warning signs for potential mental health challenges before those develop into full-blown problems. They also understand how to encourage positive habits and behaviors that support the well-being of residents.
Understanding the importance of behavioral health care for seniors helps the team create solid and lasting relationships with residents and their families. Those relationships are critical to residents’ well-being, but they also support the facility economically.
Residents who feel well looked after and cared for will continue to stay in a facility. They feel no need to move elsewhere because their needs are met and exceeded.
Plus, basic behavioral health care training expands the skill set of the facility’s team. This type of training raises the overall level of care offered by the facility.
Introducing Behavioral Health Care to Support On-Staff Psychiatrists
Behavioral health care improves the quality of care a facility delivers and increases the quality of life of all residents – the ultimate goal of leading ALF communities.
A comprehensive behavioral health care program helps your on-staff psychiatrist work better. They can focus their attention on initial assessments and support those residents who require a high level of care. When behavioral health care is integrated into the facility’s approach, all team members can work together more efficiently.
Taking your facility to the next level is easy with the right partner. TrueCare™’s behavioral health program has been tailored to ALF communities and other residential care facilities. Rather than having to expand your in-house team, you access the support and expertise you need whenever you need it. By training your team members, we can increase their skillset and lighten the load of your on-staff psychiatrist.
The results will be evident immediately.