Annesley House - UnitingCare NSW.ACT - Building capacity

Category: Organisational leadership and staff development

Annesley House - UnitingCare NSW.ACT , Leichhardt NSW

Annesley House is a unique aged care facility, catering to the elderly with mental health concerns. The ‘Annesley House: Building Capacity’ project was developed in response to issues being experienced in this environment. These included high staff turnover, staff inept in coping with resident symptoms due to lack of skills, an increase in resident aggression and reportable incidents. These were impacting both staff and resident well-being and it was evident there were areas for improvement in care and service delivery.

A project team was formed and consultation was held with a range of stakeholders to find sustainable, efficient and effective solutions. There was a need for upskilling staff in managing mental health issues, strengthening of management and diversional therapy teams, change in environment and culture to provide necessary support and guidance to nursing and care staff, and new activities and events for residents.

The project team worked over the year introducing new measures, attending education and training to upskill themselves, and recruiting staff with mental health experience. The team worked with various external support services to enhance clinical care and education at the home.

Some examples of work practices implemented by the team that have led to positive outcomes for residents and staff:

  • Management  and care staff attended Mental Health First Aid training. Two key staff were identified as the primary contacts for residents in their day-to-day life and provided them with an opportunity to complete Certificate IV in Mental Health.
  • Management in collaboration with Medicare Locals secured funding for a psychologist service at the facility. This benefited ten residents with chronic behavioural issues such as visual and auditory hallucinations in their behaviour modification profiling.
  • Initiation of a pain clinic and skin assessment clinic at the facility, run by a physiotherapist and registered nurse, providing quality of care and better symptomatic management for residents.
  • Leisure and lifestyle/diversional therapy: a beautiful garden was planted for residents to enjoy. The diversional therapist worked on discovering the unique passions and talents of the residents – then tailoring activities to ensure meaningful engagement. One example is a male resident who was a skilled tailor in the past. He helped to sew costumes for other residents for the Annual Resident Ball, and it is thought this involvement contributed to substantial reduction in his aggressive behaviours since. Furthermore, the Lifestyle Team then formed a sewing group and was able to engage many more residents who also enjoy this activity. 


Overall, the results of the project have been positive and include:

  • Decreased reportable incidents;
  • Decreased resident aggression incidents;
  • Enhanced staff capability in managing behaviours;
  • Increased participation of residents in recreational activities and social events;
  • Increased staff well-being, retention and reduction in work-related injuries;
  • Increased resident satisfaction;
  • Increased staff engagement;
  • Improved collaboration between management and external support services  


The improvements are visible through evaluation, feedback and on staff and resident faces, as well as in their level of energy and engagement. By enabling staff to have better understanding of mental health issues, they were empowered with knowledge of how to improve the environment for residents. Residents reflect this by treating staff members as their family.

For more information on the program, contact Chidananda Kamath, email ckamath@untingcarenswact.org.au or phone 0422002479.