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mental health care

With symptoms of mental health disorders increasingly marginalized and negatively stereotyped, as well as the growing concerns surrounding care quality and ethics, it is essential to establish a wholesome industry-wide care support system. Here’s care home providers can do their part.

Shifting away from a narrow focus

There is a rising percentage of older adults with special needs assessments for co-morbidities. For example, recent studies show that patients experiencing the challenging physical symptoms of a stroke, type two diabetes, or fractured bone are likely to be diagnosed with dementia and depression.  On the other hand, the wielders of the “grey pound”, with its formidable purchasing power accounting for an economic contribution of 300 billion, have specific requirements when it comes to care home companies in the UK.  For instance, personalized care packages that focus on strengths rather than limitations, and finding meaningful outlets for a patient’s remaining skills and aspirations, are favoured over the clinical “straightjacket” of hospitals.  Therefore, while a vigilant and integrated approach to dealing with patients with multiple interconnected ailments is paramount, it’s vital to view them as people who are more than just a sum of their conditions.

Rectifying negative perceptions

According to the CDC, even though over 20% of adults aged over 55 are afflicted with a mental health disorder, only two out of three receive treatment, and even fewer benefit from a customized holistic care package.  Additionally, many older patients downplay psychological symptoms, mainly due to poor mental health being grossly stigmatized, and these untreated cognitive disorders affect the patient’s capacity to deal with their other conditions.  Statistics indicate that senior citizens with dementia are hospitalized three times more frequently, and psychotropic medications are administered without addressing the root cause, all of which impact the patient’s quality of life. Therefore, the best dementia care homes achieve outstanding rankings on CQC  quality and safety standards while combining ethical equity with evidence-based procedures that preserve residents’ dignity, individuality, and overall wellbeing.

Designing a safe haven                                                                               

The foremost indicators of premier elderly mental health care homes is a tranquil, stress-free environment that focuses on celebrating the fulsome lives of its inhabitants, creates meaningful new memories, and builds mutually-beneficial relationships.  While it’s crucial to ensure that such institutions proffer purpose-built assisted living amenities, from MRA-approved equipment to rehabilitative technologies and mHealth solutions, one-on-one quality human interactions cannot be compromised. For instance, care staff must play the role of a second family, actively listening to patients, displaying sensitivity to mood changes, and dealing with misbehaviours with tact and patience, while addressing the root cause without taking potentially hazardous shortcuts.  

Encouraging independence and stimulation

Another defining feature of effective person-centred care is a customized daily routine which is flexible and adapted to diverse requirements and characteristics. Whether it’s asking them what they want for breakfast, laying out clothing options for them to pick, or what type of therapies or traditions they would like to partake in, occupiers of residential mental healthcare homes in the UK must habitually make choices for themselves. Additionally, they must be given the freedom to deck their quarters with pieces of home, indulge in long-lost hobbies, and venture out into the garden with a book as they please, under non-obtrusive surveillance if necessary.

Creating a supportive work environment

HPCs in the mental health arena are highly susceptible to carer distress due to a plethora of factors from understaffing, insufficient salaries, poor resource allocation, and lack of an industry-wide support system.  Therefore, as emphasized by the NHS model for enhanced health in care homes, a collaborative safety net involving health care stakeholders, social care commissioners, and multidisciplinary teams, consisting of experts from geriatric psychiatrists to pharmacists and NHS Trust workers, is paramount.

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