The federal government has announced that aged care workers can now access free counselling services from Converge International.

Converge International will deliver up to five free counselling sessions per person. Services include employee and manager support, career guidance, financial counselling and family support. These services are available for a three month period to 10 November 2020.

Phone 1800 697 327 (free call) or visit www.convergeinternational.com.au to book an appointment. Make sure you state that you are from the “VIC Residential Aged Care Workforce” when booking.

Further support has also been provided by the Victorian government on Sunday announcing that Victoria’s mental health system will receive an additional $57 million boost – to assist those struggling with the impacts and pressures of the pandemic.

This includes a $250,000 allocation to the Nursing and Midwifery Health Program Victoria (NMHPV), offering increased mental health counselling services and referrals for personal care workers, nurses and midwives.

Traditionally, the NMHPV does not offer its services to personal care workers – including aged care workers. But now, those working in associated fields can call up for assistance. Run by a collective of nurses, the program is independent, confidential and free.

“I encourage nurses, midwives, students and carers to use this service if you are worried about COVID-19, worried about taking it home to your family, worried about your patients and residents, if you are in self-isolation or you have tested positive,” says NMHPV secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick.

“Use it if your workplace is one of the aged care facilities that has had an outbreak, or if you were one of the nurses first on the scene to assist at an outbreak facility,” Fitzpatrick says.

“These have been extraordinary situations and there’s nothing wrong with asking for support at work.

“Nurses, midwives and carers don’t have to carry this all on their own, and please don’t wait until you feel totally overwhelmed.”

The NMHPV was founded in 2006, powered by nurses’ and midwives’ registration fees. In 2010, funding to the NMHPV was declined when Australia transitioned from a state to national nursing registration model. When the Andrews Government was elected in 2014, it decided to provide recurrent funding to the NMHPV.

“Many in our health team, particularly nurses, midwives and personal care workers, are doing it very tough,” Premier Daniel Andrews said at Sunday’s press conference.

“Particularly those nurses and personal care workers who have gone into aged care settings in fundamental crisis – you can’t unsee what you’ve seen,” Mr Andrews says.

“There is a degree of trauma, a degree of previously unknown levels of really, really challenging circumstances. It’s an incredibly difficult area in many of the settings.”

Victorian Minister for Mental Health Martin Foley says the funding will “fast track” the Royal Commission’s work to “ensure we have the infrastructure and support systems in place as demand on our mental health system increases”.

“This package will provide further support for people from all walks of life experiencing anxiety and distress during this unprecedented period of uncertainty and isolation,” Foley says.

Aged care workers can contact the NMHPV on (03) 9415 7551 for assistance, or email (admin@nmhp.org.au). Visit nmhp.org.au for further information.

 

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