Psychology Services for Aged Care Residents

Hunter Primary Care has been successfully providing Psychology Services in Residential Aged Care Facilities in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie since July 2009 (previously known as Hunter Medicare Local). As of 1st July 2019, the service is now available to permanent residents of aged care facilities in the following regions: Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Port Stephens, Cessnock, Singleton, Muswellbrook, Dungog, Upper Hunter and Mid North Coast. This service is free of charge to both residents and the aged care facility.

HPC staff (who may be psychologists or social workers) visit facilities and can provide psychological treatment and support to residents of aged care facilities who present with mild to moderate mental health disorders and/or are exhibiting heightened psychological distress.

The service is for residents who are able to respond to psychological interventions, and who are not able to access support from Medicare or other government-funded sources. The service works collaboratively with aged care staff and GPs.

The service is funded to address gaps in service, not to provide specialist or dementia services, nor duplicate services provided by the Older People’s Mental Health Service (1800 011 511) or Dementia Support Australia (1800 699 799). We are unable to provide crisis support or services.

Common presentations to our service include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Grief and loss
  • Persisting pain
  • Adjustment problems, such as difficulty coping with a health condition, sensory loss, functional decline or transitioning into living in residential aged care.

The psychological support offered will be determined by our psychology team based on the resident’s presentation using an evidence-based, stepped model of care, and can include staff consultation or training. The number and length of the sessions provided are dependent on the preferences of the resident and their ability to benefit from psychological intervention. Written feedback and recommendations from the sessions will be provided by Hunter Primary Care to the referring GP. Verbal information can also be provided to aged care staff and family members with the consent of the resident.

During the COVID-19 Pandemic, our clinicians are providing a range of telehealth options, which include:

  • Telephone support
  • Video conferencing
  • Staff consultations via telephone/video conferencing
  • Corresponding with residents via letter and email

How to refer

Referral to the Hunter Primary Care Residential Aged Care Psychology Program can be made by GPs or senior staff at Aged Care Facilities.

We ask that you gain consent from the resident (and enduring guardian where applicable) prior to referring them for a service.

Please indicate that the service is required in Residential Aged Care and send to our intake team:

Facility initiated referrals are accepted if the treating GP approves of their patient being seen by a psychologist. Senior staff (e.g. Care Manager or Registered Nurses) are asked to complete the Residential Aged Care Program referral form.

GP referrals are accepted for residents by sending a detailed referral letter. A Mental Health Care Plan is NOT required for referring residents.

Please include the following information:

  • Symptoms of mental health issues
  • Risk of suicide/self-harm, or aggression towards others
  • Onset (gradual or sudden) and duration of symptoms
  • Mental health history of resident and any previous treatment
  • Confirmation that physical causes for behaviour change have been ruled out (e.g. delerium, medication side effects)


  • Drug and alcohol use
  • Medical history - list of medications and medical conditions
  • Whether the resident has a formal diagnosis of dementia
  • Any other relevant context (e.g. chronic illness, pain, poor hearing or vision)

For further information about this service and resident eligibility, please contact the Clinical Manager (Aged Care) on (02) 4925 2259

We are unable to provide a crisis service. If more urgent support is required for an Aged Care Resident, please use one of the following 24 hour options (for immediate assistance, ring triple zero):

ACE Support Line: 1300 223 555

Mental Health Line: 1800 011 511

Dementia Support Australia 1800 699 799