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Launch of specialist geriatric services model of care

A new model of care for for specialist mental health services for older people has been launched in the RCPI.

The model of care has been developed by the HSE National Clinical Programme for Older People (NCPOP) and it outlines how specialist mental health services for older people (aged 65 and over) should be developed appropriately to focus on the diagnosis and treatment of the full spectrum of mental disorders which occurs in this age group.

The recognition and treatment of mental health problems enhances quality of life for older people, reduces suffering and decreases stress on family caregivers and has a positive impact upon physical health. It is imperative to develop specialist mental health services to meet these needs, both in the community and in the acute hospital.

The model makes clear recommendations on how this may be best achieved by having:

1. Clinical pathways in the community and in the acute hospital;

2. Key working relationships with primary care and geriatric medicine;

3. The appropriate staffing and infrastructure requirements for service provision;

4.  Ongoing training, education and research to ensure a consistently high standard of service provision;

5. Appropriate governance and oversight of services in place.

Speaking at the launch, Dr Margo Wrigley, Chair, Mental Health Working Group, NCPOP said:“Much has been achieved with all parts of the country having access to a specialist mental health service except for one area (West Cork). This model of care provides clear guidance on the operation and resourcing of these services for older people living at home. It also provides guidance on the need to expand the provision of this specialist service to older people admitted to acute hospitals. It highlights the role of the specialist mental health services as an essential component of the provision of accessible, needs-led and integrated services for older people.”

Dr Siobhán Kennelly, HSE National Clinical Advisor and Group Lead for Older Persons said: “The launch of the model of care for the Specialist Mental Health Service for Older People reflects a great opportunity for integration and enhancement of services for older People. We look forward to progressing the model in line with Sláintecare and the opportunity to learn from the Community Healthcare Networks to support people to live more independently in their community by coordinating and integrating services.”

Dr Siobhán Ni Bhriain, HSE National Clinical Advisor and Group Lead for Mental Health said: “Mental health disorders in older people have a significant and deleterious effect on their overall well-being, on their physical health and on social engagement. Older people have so much wisdom and experience to impart and play a huge role in their communities, families and wider social networks. This Clinical Programme recognises the importance of detecting and treating mental illness in older people and is an excellent example of how care should be integrated across the many settings that older people present to-primary care, the hospital setting, specialist age-related services and mental health services, amongst others. It is a paradigm for Sláintecare, Ireland’s National Health Policy and a credit to the work of all those who participated in developing and implementing it.”

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