Psychologist as Consultant:
The Role of Clinical Psychologists in LTC Settings

By Sherie L. Friedrich, PsyD
Clinical Director Department of Psychology, MediTelecare

The role of Clinical Psychologists in Long Term Care settings is oftentimes misunderstood. As providers face increased regulations surrounding the prescribing of psychotropic medications in LTC facilities, the utility of psychologists in providing non-pharmacological interventions becomes more and more apparent. Psychotherapy is perhaps the most widely understood and recognized service that psychologists offer. Given that nearly half of all patients in LTC’s meet criteria for clinical depression, it is not surprising that this is an important component of care for our aging population.1 One should also consider that there are unique issues related to lifespan development that older adults face including bereavement, adjustment difficulties, health related concerns, and changes in functioning and independence. Psychotherapy can often serve as a vehicle for processing these and other stressors faced by nursing home patients.

Through their advanced training, Psychologists develop expertise in understanding human behavior and diagnosing psychiatric illness.

In LTC settings this input can be quite helpful to other providers whether it be to refine a diagnosis, develop a treatment plan, or make recommendations to nursing staff on how to best handle a difficult situation. At MediTelecare, our Psychologists and Nurse Practitioners enjoy a collaborative relationship drawing upon our unique training and a shared commitment to mental well-being for our patients. We believe that this collaboration ultimately leads to better patient care.

As the landscape in LTC settings changes, and as younger and more psychiatrically compromised patients reside in Nursing Homes, Psychologists become an increasingly important component of integrated care.2 When you come across one us in one of your buildings, please say hello and ask about how we can help your residents and your nursing team!

Below you will find a description of some of the services that our Psychologists provide:

  • Individualized services that include psychotherapy, family therapy, bereavement counseling, and behavioral management drawing on evidenced based practices.
  • Neurocognitive screening to aid in both treatment planning and overall care planning.
  • Behavioral interventions and crisis evaluations to assess safety concerns, reduce re-hospitalization whenever possible, and refer patients out of the facility when necessary.
  • Behavioral rounds and expertise recommendations are provided to staff to address specific challenging patient behaviors/presentations.
  • Evaluations of decisional capacity for healthcare decision making only, on a case-by-case basis.
References:
  1. Center for Disease Control. Vital and health statistics. Long term care services in the United States: 2013 Overview. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nsltcp/long_term_care_services_2013.pdf
  2. Grabowski D. C., Aschbrenner K. A., Feng Z., Mor V. (2009). Mental illness in nursing homes: Variations across states. Health Affairs, 28 (3): 689–700. Retrieved from: doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.28.3.689

 


Portal Login