Thursday, October 18, 2018 | 9:00am – 12:00pm
No registration fee but pre-registration is required (coffee will be provided during registration and mid-morning)

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Older Canadians are least likely to report their own mental health as very good or excellent[i], and mental health problems and illnesses are as common in older adults as in other age cohorts. Anxiety, substance misuse, and depression were estimated to be as common as dementia among the 1.8 million people aged sixty years and over living with a mental illness in 2016.[ii] But, neither poor mental health nor mental illnesses are a natural consequence of growing older. Mental health problems among older adults can go undetected due to misconceptions about ‘normal’ aging and a lack of knowledge among health practitioners, families and older adults themselves.  Effective interventions exist to promote mental health, prevent, and treat mental illness to support healthy aging throughout later life.

A range of approaches are needed to address the wide range of risk and protective factors for mental health and addiction among older adults, and to improve the capacity of health providers, seniors and families to support and improve the mental health of older adults. These efforts need to operate across sectors and disciplines, including home care services.  Conversations about improving how home care services respond to mental health needs have been going on in the background for some time, but other than for a brief period more than decade and half ago, [iii]these conversations never managed to come to the foreground. A recent scoping review of policy documents and literature [iv]  found:

  • A dearth of focus on seniors’ mental health within home care funding programs and policies
  • Formal home care can have positive effects on clients.
  • Minimal attention to diverse needs of the various subgroups of older adults (such as immigrants, the LGBTQ community, those with mental health or addiction issues, and Indigenous communities);
  • Dementia/cognitive health and mental illness/mental health tend to be discussed as separate entities.


The goal of this workshop is get input from a diverse range of experts, practitioners and people with lived experience on a policy and resource paper the Mental Health Commission is developing on Home Care, Mental Health and Aging. The paper is intended to serve as a practical source of guidance for planners and providers on strategies and tools that can help home care services better respond to the mental health needs of older adults through their services.

Participants will:

  • Review and provide feedback on findings from a scoping review and a roundtable of key informants held in November 2017.
  • Discuss opportunities for better meeting mental health needs in home care at the policy, program and practice levels across a range of dimensions, including competencies, training and support of home care and primary care providers, technology, access, integration and support for collaboration, inclusion and needs of diverse populations, eligibility issues, and achieving holistic family- and person-centred care.
  • Have an opportunity to share their own examples of innovative/emerging good practices.

Who Should Attend?

  • Health care, home care, mental health, and social services administrators, planners and providers
  • Community service organizations
  • Policy makers
  • Researchers
  • Non-governmental organizations and advocates
  • Older adults and their care networks
  • Students


This workshop is lead by members of staff of the Knowledge Exchange Centre at the Mental Health Commission Centre who are co-leading two projects on aging and mental health at the Centre:  Sareda Quah-Vo, Knowledge Broker and Francine Knoops, Lead Analyst Strategic Policy and Stakeholder Engagement.


[i] Mental Health Commission of Canada. (2015). Informing the Future: Mental Health Indicators for Canada. Based on data from the Canadian Community Health Survey, Public Use Microdata File, Statistics Canada (years 2003, 2005, 2007/08, 2009/10, 2011/12). Also available from CANSIM table 105-1101.

[ii] Mental Health Commission of Canada.  (2017). Strengthening the case for Investing in Canada’s mental health system: Economic considerations. Based on modelling data in Smetanin, P., Stiff, D., Briante, C., Adair, C.E., Ahmad, S. & Khan, M. (2011). The life and economic impact of major mental illnesses in Canada: 2011 to 2041. RiskAnalytica on behalf of the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

[iii] Canadian Mental Health Association. (2002).  Supporting Senior’s Mental Health Through Home Care.

[iv] Wilson, K., Stinchcombe, A. (2017). Seniors Mental Health and Home Care.  A scoping review for the Mental Health Commission of Canada. October 2017 (unpublished).