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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

New guidance on caring for people growing older with an existing mental illness

Embargoed until 08 January 2009

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has updated its guidance on caring for people who are growing older with an existing mental illness.

When people with mental health problems grow older, they may need to move between psychiatric services. For example, they may move from general and community (or rehabilitation) psychiatry to the psychiatry of old age.

However, making such transitions can be difficult and worrying both for service users themselves, and for their carers. Some people fear that their needs may not be met as well in the new service, and that they may not have as much influence over their own treatment. They may also be anxious about facing stigma in older adult services, because these are often perceived to be less well-resourced than services for younger people.

The new College report, Links not boundaries: service transitions for people growing older with enduring or relapsing mental illness, makes 20 separate recommendations to help improve the care of people during this transition, including:

  • Services should have agreed ‘transition protocols’ which lay out the process for considering transition between services. These should be drawn up locally with input from service users, carers and local social services.
  • The transition process should involve a thorough assessment of the person’s needs.
  • The assessment should be sensitive to the person’s sexuality, spirituality, and cultural and ethnic background.
  • It is best practice to consider transferring a person when their mental state is stable.
  • Copies of the transition protocol, written in appropriate and accessible language, should be available to everyone involved – especially the service users and carers.
  • The transition process should incorporate the users’ and carers’ views.
  • A written copy of the agreed care plan should (with the service user’s agreement) be shared with all relevant professionals including their GP and any supporting organisations.

The report has been produced by a working party including representatives from the College’s Faculties of Old Age Psychiatry, General and Community Psychiatry, Rehabilitation Psychiatry, the Faculty of Old Age Psychiatry consumer group and a mental health nurse.

Organisations are advised to consider the new recommendations, and to review their current procedures to help improve the experiences of families using their services.


For further information, please contact:
Kathy Oxtoby or Deborah Hart in the Communications Department.

Telephone: 0203 701 2544 or 0203 701 2538

 

References:

CR153 Links not boundaries: service transitions for people growing older with enduring or relapsing mental illness

 

Note to editors:

Council Report 153 Links not boundaries: service transitions for people growing older with enduring or relapsing mental illness, updates Council Report 110 Caring for people who enter old age with enduring or relapsing mental illness (‘Graduates’)

 

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