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The BPS (2007) good practice guidelines identified 12 competencies for working with older adults:

1 Personal and professional recognition and understanding of how to address age discrimination. 2 Able to recognise and manage the effects of differences in age between Psychologist and older people particularly in the implementation of psychological therapies.

3 Able to encourage and support older people, their carers, and staff to increase autonomy, choice, and psychological well-being and be able to effectively work to increase motivation when it is low.

4 Able to recognise and minimise psychological barriers to older people’ independence.

5 Able to demonstrate cultural sensitivity, and address culture specific expectations of ageing.

6 Able to effectively communicate with older people. Able to overcome cognitive and sensory impairments to enable effective work to take place. Able to provide written information in the right format for an individual older person.

7 Able to determine psychological formulations for older people with complex, multiple problems. For example, clients with co-existing dementia, depression, social isolation, substance abuse, and poverty.

8 Able to effectively intervene, both directly and indirectly, to improve the lives of older people, and their carers, using psychological understanding and techniques based on a scientist-practitioner and reflective-practitioner model.

9 Able to recognise and manage risk in older people.

10 Have a basic knowledge of the range of services and agencies available for older people and how to access them.

11 Able to work effectively with other providers of services for older people to address psychological aspects of health and health care.

12 Able to recognise and manage boundary issues when working with older people in different settings, e.g. patients’ homes, medical wards.


BPS(2007). Good Practice Guidelines for UK Clinical Psychology Training Providers for the Training and Consolidation of Clinical Practice in Relation to Older People ($.cfm?file_uuid=CAA50A5A-1143-DFD0-7EA2-C58082D2D184 Full text)

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