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Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on older adults mental health services: A mixed methods study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Rohan Bhome, Jonathan Huntley, Christian Dalton-Locke, Norha Vera San Juan, Sian Oram, Una Foye, G. Livingstone

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1748-1758
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number11
PublishedNov 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: The authors would like to thank the MHPRU research team who carried out the original study, and the mental health care staff who completed the survey. This paper presents a secondary analysis of independent research commissioned and funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Policy Research Programme, conducted by the NIHR Policy Research Unit (PRU) in Mental Health. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NIHR, the Department of Health and Social Care or its arm's length bodies or other government departments. Publisher Copyright: © 2021 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

King's Authors


Objectives: The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on older adults mental health care. Our study aimed to explore staff perspectives on key challenges and innovations in order to help inform the delivery of older adults mental health care in subsequent waves of the pandemic. Methods: A mixed methods online questionnaire developed by National Institute for Health Research Mental Health Policy Research Unit was used to gather staff perspectives on their challenges at work, problems faced by service users and their carers, and sources of help and support. Descriptive statistics were used for quantitative analysis and descriptive content analysis for qualitative analysis. Results: 158 participants, working in either community or inpatient settings, and from a range of professional disciplines, were included. For inpatient staff, a significant challenge was infection control. In the community, staff identified a lack of access to physical and social care as well as reduced contact with friends and families as being challenges for patients. Remote working was seen as a positive innovation along with COVID-19 related guidance from various sources and peer support. Conclusion: Our study, with a focus on staff and patient well-being, helps to inform service development for future waves of the pandemic. We discuss measures to improve infection control in inpatient settings, the role of voluntary organisations in supporting socially isolated community patients, the need for better integration of physical and mental health services at an organisational level, and the importance of training staff to support patients and their families with end of life planning.

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