• Tackling the inescapable: Mental ill health in later life. Report on a series of conversations

      Collier, Elizabeth; Ahmed, J; Lamph, Gary; Ahmed, Anya; University of Salford (University of Salford, 2018-04-18)
      Older people with mental health problems (OPMHP) are a sub group of both mental health service users and older people service users. The specific voice OPMHP is therefore diluted within these general groups and there is little evidence to inform our understanding of the experiences of OPMHP. This project aimed to engage in conversation with older people who have experienced mental health problems with a view to hearing OPMHP perspectives and identifying priorities for future research. Twelve people met though contacts with local services and community contacts contributed. Their ages ranged from 52-86 and there were 7 men and 5 women. Six meetings/conversations were held (individually or in small groups) during a three month period April-July 2017. Each conversation built on findings from the previous meeting/conversation. The conversations were shaped by the questions: What does ‘older person’ mean to you? ‘What matters in mental health care for older people’? (Including discussion about what was meant by ‘age appropriate’) and ‘What should be researched’? Conversations about preliminary findings were continued at a feedback event on 3rd July 2017 attended by seven of the contributors. The predefined categories ‘older people’, mental health care and age appropriateness’ and ‘research’ shaped the conversations. The older people category found mixed and contradictory ideas about what older person meant. A content analysis of the categories ‘mental health care and age appropriateness’, and ‘research’ was conducted by ‘within’ and ‘across’ analysis of the transcribed notes from the six meetings/conversations and found eight themes: Mutuality, Sensitivity, Carers, Exclusion, Meaning and purpose, Politics, Physical and mental health integration, and Mortality. Although limitations include: a small number of people, lack of diversity, and took place in only one location, the depth of the discussions was wide ranging. The themes overlapped somewhat but some new insights emerged which are perhaps not well explored in literature or policy. The idea of age appropriateness was confusing and was not defined but was conflated with illness and frailty. There was an emphasis on ageism that is in contrast with mental health policy that does not address the complexity of (indirect) discrimination on the basis of age for OPMH. Although this report only includes the views of twelve people it raises a number of important issues that are worthy of further exploration. This is particularly important for policy and commissioners who need to progress on the basis of up to date evidence. The consultation will inform development for research proposals and bids following exploratory literature reviews on topics raised.