Date Published: 14 November 2005
New guide for older people's mental health services in UK
A new guide for the UK National Health Service (NHS), launched today, will put new focus on older people' mental health including delirium, dementia and depression.
On a visit to Devonshire House Resource Centre, an Age Concern Day Care Centre in the Wirral, Minister Liam Byrne said:
" With 50% of older people in hospital experiencing mental health problems it is clear that this is an area we must address. Our older people have given a life time of service and they deserve first class care.
_ We want to ensure that older people have their needs met wherever they are in the system, without encountering discrimination or barriers to access."
The new service development guide, 'Everybody's business. Integrated mental health services for older adults: A service development guide', will set out the key components of a modern older people's mental health service including:
- Providing users and their carers with information on their condition and consulting them about how care plans are developed
- Training staff at all levels so they can communicate effectively with service users
- Building services around a person's needs that can change as needed
- Commissioning that includes health and social care, the independent and voluntary sectors, and users and carers
- Eradicating age discrimination
- Developing services that are sensitive to a person's cultural needs
Ian Philp, National Clinical Director for Older People said:
" Providing services for people with mental health needs can be complex as they cut across health and social care, physical and mental health and mainstream and specialist services. It is essential to make sure that people's needs are met in a co-ordinated way, and that they don't fall between gaps in the system."
Louis Appleby, National Clinical Director for Mental Health said:
" This guide is a key step in the evolution of older people's mental health services and provides a blueprint for future services. It is not about developing new policies ? it is about improving health and social care practice at the front line. We want to stress that looking after older people with mental health problems is everybody's business and not just the role of specialist services."
The guide will be supported by a mapping programme that will collect information on older people's mental health services, their availability and how they are staffed. Information from the mapping programme will help managers and commissioners develop services and bids for resources and also help support performance management.
Philip Hurst, Health Policy Adviser at Age Concern England said:
" The guide is a positive step towards ensuring that older peoples' mental health is given the attention it urgently needs. Identifying and addressing the mental health needs of older people must be a priority for all health and social care professionals."
Studies estimate that 40% of GP attendees, 50% of general hospital inpatients, and 60% of care home residents have a mental health problem.
Dementia affects one person in 20 aged over 65 years and one person in five over 80.
England's ageing population means that the number of older people with mental health problems is set to increase even further.
Improving mental wellbeing in older people will support the delivery of a number of national targets and core and developmental standards. These include reducing emergency bed days, enabling people to live independently at home and reducing death from suicide.
The service development guide is supported by a comprehensive web-based resource (see link below) which includes best practice guidance and practice examples, as well as links to relevant policy. It will be implemented with the help of the Care Services Improvement Partnership, which was established in April 2005 to support improvements in services.
The Department of Health will support implementation of this service development guide with:
- A series of regional seminars to raise awareness of older people's mental health issues and to drive service improvement
- Special events for service users and carers to identify further priorities and promote their inclusion in service planning and delivery
- Working with the Healthcare Commission and Commission for Social Care Inspection, who have agreed to use the guide as a benchmark for service inspection.
Source(s): The UK Department of Health