• Clown Doctors entertained seven-year-old Sarah at Sydney Children’s Hospital playing the song ‘You Are My Sunshine’ with a ukulele and bring the best medicine they can offer – laughter. The Clown Doctors became a regular program at the children’s hospital since January 1997 to cheer up sick kids as well as their parents during a very stressful situation.
• About one third of aged care residents have depression and anxiety, however, most are excluded from Medicare-funded psychological treatment available to the wider community. Aged and Community Services Australia believes that the government has a responsibility to make mental health services available to all Australians — including those living in residential aged care.
• Sunnydale Rest Home, a facility for people with disabilities and mental health conditions, says its future is in limbo, with fears it could lose at least $200,000 a year because of the further rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 18th of January 2017. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News
Down a corridor of the neurology ward at the Sydney Children’s Hospital at Randwick, between the nurses’ trolley, a shelf of blankets and a wheelchair, are bubbles floating in the air.
The sounds of You Are My Sunshine are being strummed on a ukulele.
With a curious peer outside her room, seven-year-old Sarah slowly ventures out to check out the distraction.
“And I’m Dr Smarty-Pantz … and I like telling fart jokes,” her partner, with a bright red nose and a revolving bow tie, adds.
Making their morning rounds, the doctors are here delivering the best medicine they can offer — laughter.
The Clown Doctors became a regular program at the children’s hospital in January 1997 and …celebrate[d] their 20th anniversary on Tuesday.
The idea to form the Humour Foundation came from Dr Peter Spitzer who had been inspired by the US physician and original clown doctor Dr Patch Adams.
The charity now employs about 62 performers who work across 24 metro and regional hospitals around the country, as well as aged care facilities as part of the Elder Clowns program established in 2000.
“The Clown Doctors should be in every major hospital every day.
“It works. The head is just as important as the body.”
Lou Pollard, otherwise known as Dr Quack, has been working as a Clown Doctor for 10 years.
She said she tried to cheer up the parents as much as the kids.
“We tend to see really sick kids who are in hospital a really long time.
“We try and bring joy to all the families, even the grandmas, nursing staff, the cleaners, the doctors; we want to bring a sense of fun to the hospital in a really stressful situation.
Ms Pollard splits her time between the children’s hospitals at Randwick, Westmead, Gosford and Bear Cottage in Manly.
Each clown is restricted to three days of work a week to help them maintain their own emotional health.
They also have access to psychological support services as the job …can take a toll.
Older Australians living in nursing homes have some of the highest rates of depression and anxiety, but most are excluded from Medicare-funded psychological treatment available to the wider community, aged care advocates say.
About one third of aged care residents have depression and anxiety — making them two to three times more likely to have the conditions than older people living in the general community, according to studies by the National Aging Research Institute.
Aged and Community Services Australia, which represents not-for-profit aged care providers, has released a statement saying it believes the Government has a responsibility to make mental health treatments and services readily accessible and available to all Australians — including those living in residential aged care.
COTA Australia chief executive Ian Yates called for an end to the inequity.
“Many older Australians end up entering residential aged care with mental illness because we tend to regard mental illness as an inevitable part of aging, which it isn’t,” Mr Yates said.
“And, every mental health plan that the Commonwealth and the states have had has put older people at the back of the bus.”
Mr Yates said most nursing home residents have not had the benefit of seeing Medicare-funded psychologists.
“The fact that aged care residents are excluded from [Medicare-funded psychological care] is a historical anomaly,” he said.
Australian Psychological Society executive director Professor Lyn Littlefield said it can lead to incorrect medical treatment.
An Adelaide care facility for people with disabilities and mental health conditions says its future is in limbo, with fears it could lose at least $200,000 a year because of the further roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
Sunnydale Rest Home at Semaphore is currently state funded and has 43 clients with a range of imparements, but predominantly mental illness.
Sunnydale supportive care general manager Shane Heffernan said the facility was told the state funding of $14.65 per person, per day, would cease as part of the NDIS rollout this year.
“Eighty plus per cent [of Sunnydale’s clients are] not going to be covered by the scheme and we’re going to be losing the funding for those guys,” Mr Heffernan said.
Mr Heffernan said the fear those clients would not be funded was based on “limited” information supplied to the supported residential services (SRS) sector by the NDIS and state and federal health authorities.
He said despite NDIS assurances that clients residing in an SRS facility would not be worse off, 36 Sunnydale residents faced not being covered under the national scheme, because they had what were known as psycho-social disorders.
They include schizophrenia, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, agoraphobia, social phobia, depression and bipolar.
The NDIS said for a person to be eligible for coverage, their affliction must likely be permanent and make their partaking in everyday activities difficult.
But Mr Heffernan said his currently-funded “psycho-social” clients were not afflicted enough to meet that criteria.…