Policy, organisation and practice of specialist old age psychiatry in England.Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2002 Nov; 17(11):1018-26.IJ
To describe and compare service arrangements in old age psychiatry across England according to three broad domains: (i) levels of professional autonomy; (ii) degree of community orientation (delivery of and links with community services) and (iii) degree of integration between health and social care provision.
Cross sectional survey of consultants in old age psychiatry in England. Potential respondents were sourced from the Royal College of Psychiatrists and Regional Advisers in Old Age Psychiatry.
A self-administered postal questionnaire was piloted and refined. The questionnaire domains listed above reflect core policy issues for older people's services, covering the domains above.
There is marked variation in the deployment and use of professional staff in old age psychiatry, ranging from open access to multidisciplinary assessment to services only accessible by clinician referral. Patterns of linkage with primary care are likewise variable with only half of services providing the types of support recommended by the Audit Commission (2000). Community orientation was evident to a considerable extent in support to care homes and assessment practices. Links between health and social care appeared strongest in terms of liaison and training. There was less evidence of more formal integration through shared management of staff or for links with intensive home support for those with dementia.
The data provide a unique picture and benchmark of the configuration of old age psychiatry, a core element of mental health care in old age, after some 25 years of development in the UK. There appears to be substantial variation on all three domains of comparison.