A nurse helping a senior citizen

A new program to strengthen behavioral healthcare delivery in long-term care facilities will focus on training, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday.

A three-year, $15 million grant will help to establish a Center of Excellence under the auspices of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The first-ever grant program will provide free training and assistance to the long-term care workforce, a SAMHSA spokesperson said.

The goal is to provide direct consultation to staff to “increase understanding, improve awareness, reduce stigmatization and build knowledge and skills for effective resident care,” added HHS.

Eleanor Feldman Barbera, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist and long-term care industry expert, called Monday’s behavioral health news a “good step in the right direction.”

“Geropsychologists have a great deal to offer the industry and I’d like to see their involvement in the development of these efforts,” Barbera told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News. “I’m hoping for a shift from fee-for-service payments for individual residents to a payment model that promotes well-being through groups for residents and families, ongoing training and support for staff, and attends to team functioning.”

Nearly 50% long-term care residents have a mental health disorder other than dementia, according to a 2017 report from the National Coalition on Mental Health and Aging. Up to 15% of residents are placed in nursing homes primarily due to these issues, which often occur in tandem with dementia, the organization noted.

Person-centered care

The new program’s initial funding will come from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

​​“This grant and our partnership with SAMHSA provide access to prevention and treatment for substance use issues, mental health services, crisis intervention, and pain care,” CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said. “Making behavioral health care a priority in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities supports a person’s whole emotional and mental well-being, promotes person-centered behavioral healthcare, and advances our CMS Behavioral Health Strategy.”

Visit McKnight’s Long-Term Care News to read the full story.

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