Long Term Care Homes

Tools for Health Care Providers: The Assessment & Treatment of Mental Health Issues in Long-Term Care Homes (focus on mood and behaviour symptoms)

In Canada, the number of seniors receiving care in LTC homes has risen from 203,000 in 1986 to 240,000 in 1996 (National Advisory Council on Aging, 1999) and this number is continuing to increase. Projections for 2031 suggest that the number of LTC beds will triple or even quadruple.

The literature suggests that there is an extremely high prevalence of mental disorders among nursing home residents. Depression is extremely common (15% – 25% of residents have symptoms of major depression) as is the prevalence of psychosis (ranging from 12-21%). Individuals with dementia suffer from cognitive impairment (usually consisting of memory impairment) may also have behavioural symptoms which include agitation, aggression, wandering, etc. Due to the high prevalence of mental disorders, studies have demonstrated limited availability of psychiatric and mental health services for residents living in Canadian LTC homes (Conn & Silver, 1998; Conn et all, 1992).

With funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada Population Health Fund, CCSMH was able to collaborate with experts in the fields of geriatrics and long-term care homes to develop evidence-based recommendations on the assessment and treatment of mental health issues in long-term care homes. From 2007-2010, pilot projects were launched to disseminate information and implement recommendations from the guidelines. Exciting work on these projects is still underway. Bookmark this page and visit us frequently for updates or contact us for more information.

All documents can be downloaded at no charge. Interested in hard copies? Please visit Request Resources for more information.

UPDATED 2014: Assessment and Treatment of Mental Health Issues in Long-Term Care (Focus on Mood and Behaviour)
Available in French/disponibles en françaisThe Guideline Updates summarize significant developments in the practice since the publication of the original guidelines in 2006. Guideline Updates are authored and reviewed by experts associated with the original guideline development project. Please refer to the original guideline below for more detailed information regarding the specific practice recommendations.


CCSMH National Guidelines for Seniors’ Mental Health: The Assessment and Treatment of Mental Health Issues in Long-Term Care Homes

(available in French/disponibles en français)


Mental Health Issues in Long-Term Care Homes Guideline Development Group

Tool on the Assessment & Treatment of Behavioural Symptoms of Older Adults Living in Long Term Care Facilities (clinician pocket card) [pdf]

(available in French/disponibles en français)


Clinician Pocket Card Development Group


The CCSMH has also produced an educational, user-friendly guide about mental health issues in long-term care homes for seniors and family members

[updated October 22, 2010]