Mental health services for older people patchy, report finds

Older people’s charities have welcomed a report criticising
mental health services for older people but called for further
steps to be taken, writes Katie

‘Forget Me Not 2002’ by the Audit Commission finds that mental
health practice and provision for older people across the country
is inconsistent, with many areas still having a lot to do to meet
the requirements of the national service framework.

The main findings suggest that while GPs and primary care staff
need more support, specialist help and training for them is often

It shows that nearly all carers of people with dementia are told
what is wrong with their relative, but three quarters of areas lack
good written information about local services, and more than a
third of carers reported having difficulties accessing respite

Not even half of all areas have fully available specialist teams
for older people with mental health problems.

Sir Andrew Foster, controller of the Audit Commission, said that
support and good quality care is not available everywhere. “Things
need to change, and that change needs to happen quickly,” he

The Alzheimer’s Society welcomed the report, but said that room
for improvement was “considerable and urgent”.

Chief executive Harry Cayton said: “Over a two-year period much
more could and should have been achieved.”

The report recommends that local mental health professionals
need to offer more guidance, training and support to GPs and
primary care staff in the management of dementia and

It also suggests that health and social care agencies develop a
range of specialist services which are acceptable and appropriate
for their areas and develop effective information sharing and
compatible IT systems.


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