Mental health services for older people

 In Mental Health, Mental Health Act, Simplifying Product Supply

In 2015, NHS England’s National Clinical Director highlighted the need for improving the access to age-appropriate mental health services for the elderly.

By 2035 the number of people who are aged 65 or over will be 23% of the population. Taking this into consideration, mental health services should reflect that and have a detailed approach to helping older people with mental health problems.

Why is it so important?

Having a specific regime to help treat older people with mental ill health is extremely important. This is because when you are over a certain age there are a lot more factors to take into consideration, before deciding on a treatment.

Older people could have complex mixtures of psychological, cognitive, functional, behavioural, physical and social problems usually relating to aging. With the population aging generally, it is important that measures are put in place to best deal with these situations, especially seeing as elderly people use health and social care services a lot more than younger people.

50% of people with Parkinson’s disease suffer depression, 25% following a stroke, 20% with coronary heart disease, 24% with neurological disease and 42% with chronic lung disease

Furthermore, the Joint Commissioning Panel for Mental Health (JCPMH) found that elderly people with health problems are likely to have a mental health problem with that. For example “50% of people with Parkinson’s disease suffer depression, 25% following a stroke, 20% with coronary heart disease, 24% with neurological disease and 42% with chronic lung disease”.

What is mental health service provision?

 The Mental Health Network NHS Confederation published a report in 2012 suggesting there was not a “consistent set of definitions that describe what is meant by an inpatient bed, which has led to difficulty in benchmarking and understanding patterns of performance”.

The paper broke down different types of mental health services to give their definitions:

Acute inpatient bed

The most common type of mental health services is the acute inpatient bed. The definition is based on patients of working age (18-65), both male and female. These wards provide support to patients suffering from acute psychiatric illness, offering both intensive medical support and nursing support. Patients, on average, will occupy a space on the ward for less than 90 days and can be there voluntarily or detained under the Mental Health Act.

Psychiatric intensive care unit

These units are more seriously controlled than acute inpatient wards as patients are there involuntarily. They are secure units where the coming and goings of patients are controlled and the units are secure (i.e. locked). Staffing levels are higher because of the amount of control needed to ensure patient and staff safety. This is because the patients usually pose a risk to themselves or others, and can’t be controlled on an acute inpatient ward. “The national guidance makes clear that the care and treatment offered in a PICU must be patient-centered, multidisciplinary, intensive, comprehensive and collaborative”. The patient’s stay is commonly brief (days to weeks) and is sent back to the acute inpatient unit ward when the risk they pose has reduced sufficiently and intense treatment has started.

Dementia assessment

Dementia is a progressive condition of the brain that can cause loss of memory, thinking speed, mental agility, language, understanding and/or judgment. These symptoms can then lead to behavioural and psychological changes which can include depression, psychosis, and aggression. These can complicate the caregiving procedure. Ideally, dementia should be assessed and treated in a community setting, but for moderate to severe cases, going to the hospital is necessary. Patients will need assessment on their ability to give consent to treatment with the possibility of the Mental Health Act having to be used to allow ongoing treatment to be given. Staff should be well trained, and treatment would normally consist of a combination of behavioural, psychological and medication regimes to manage both the symptoms of dementia and the secondary symptoms often exhibited.

Care homes and nursing home care

Care homes are places where people stay and will incorporate nursing and/or personal care for them, whether they are physically or mentally ill. There may also be a disability present or a dependence on certain substances. Personal care consists of helping the patients with bodily functions, if required, including bathing, dressing, and eating. This type of assistance has to be present if an institution is to be called a care home. Some care homes are registered to meet a specific care need, such as dementia.

mental health services

How easy is it to access?

Mental health services are offered on the NHS for free, but for the majority of the time, patients need a referral from their GP to utilise them. However, it is possible for people to refer themselves, most commonly with conditions linked with drug and alcohol problems.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has outlined a needs-based criteria, to decide who should receive these older people’s mental health services. They are as follows:

  • “People of any age with primary dementia
  • People with a mental disorder and significant physical illness or frailty which contributes to, or complicates the management of their mental illness (may include people under 60)
  • People with psychological or social difficulties related to the aging process, or end of life issues, or who feel their needs may be best met by a service for older people”

How are Ashtons involved?

Ashtons has over 25 years’ experience specialising in the supply and management of medication in the mental health sector. We partner with mental health service providers of all sizes, to help them deliver safe patient centred care, to the best of their ability.

Our role is to help those clients protect their reputations, increase patient safety, develop their staff and simplify their product supply. If you would like more information on the services we can provide healthcare organisations please visit the services page of our website.

Products we offer for elderly people

We offer a variety of medications and medical supplies to help elderly people. This includes our range of living aids, designed to make life easier for people who might find it harder to get around due to the aging process.

Products we supply include bathroom products, crutches, daily living aids, dressing aids, health exercise, and wellbeing, moving and handling equipment, pest control, sensory aids and telecare, travel products, walking frames, wooden cane and general household products.

All of these products and much more can be found on our medical supplies website. If you cannot find what you are looking for, please call our customer care team on 0345 222 3550 or email them on to help source your requirements.



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