NHS services for older people with mental health problems need "urgent attention", a watchdog said.Is it possible that 'The Healthcare Commission' is one of those rare things, a 'watchdog' that actually barks?
People over 65 are often discriminated against because of their age and can find themselves excluded from specialist services, according to the Healthcare Commission. Its report found that some elderly people were shut out of services on the basis of cost while others were not referred on by their GP.
Experts examined six mental health trusts expected to be at the high, mid and low end of performance. Overall, more than 600 people were spoken to, including staff, carers, patients and social workers. National data on accessing mental health services was also analysed for the study, although the report's authors noted that such data was lacking. Two trusts were found to be treating people on the basis of need rather than age but other trusts were lagging behind.
The report said: "Most trusts were struggling to make progress, and older people were denied access to the full range of mental health services that are available to younger adults. In particular, there was poor access to out-of-hours and crisis services, psychological therapies and alcohol services."
Around 40% of older people who visit their GP are estimated to have a mental health problem, as are 50% of older people in hospital and 60% of those in care homes. More than a quarter of admissions to mental health inpatient services are for people over the age of 65.
The report - Equality in Later Life - noted that mental health problems among older people will become more of an NHS burden in the future.
Source: The Metro.