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Keywords:

  • mental health;
  • older people;
  • service provision;
  • team working;
  • multi-disciplinary working;
  • integration

Abstract

Background

There is much variation in the services provided for older people with mental health problems. In England, the National Service Framework for Older People (NSFOP) sought to address these inconsistencies and improve care. This study describes the situation three years after its publication.

Methods

A postal survey of old age psychiatrists collected data on the NSFOP mental health model: the range of specialist mental health provision, the nature of the specialist:generic service interface and the degree of interdisciplinary/interagency working.

Results

Three hundred and eighteen (72%) consultants responded. Considerable differences existed in the deployment of key professionals within community teams, with more than a third lacking ring-fenced social work time. Few services had dedicated rehabilitation beds and nearly a third lacked separate facilities for people with organic and functional illnesses. Increasing numbers of consultants had access to a memory clinic and there was some suggestion that liaison services were developing, but little indication of increased support for care homes. Several services had yet to agree protocols with primary care, or to implement measures promoting effective information-sharing and integrated care, and there was little evidence that the introduction of the Single Assessment Process (SAP) had significantly changed practice. Although just over half of consultants reported that mental health services were improving, less than a quarter considered community provision adequate.

Conclusions

Three years after the publication of the NSFOP there remained significant gaps in services for older people with mental health problems and substantial variation in provision between districts. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.