AIMS AND OBJECTIVES : To explore how older people living at home with mental
health needs and their care partners experienced the practices of collaboration
within and between services. BACKGROUND : Many healthcare strategies for community mental health services for older people espouse a person-centred approach or principles that are similar in focus. DESIGN : This study reports on the first stage of a three-year action research project that focused on improving mental health services for older people and their care partners living at home. Data were collected through individual interviews.
Twenty people were interviewed. Data were analysed continuously and in parallel
with data collection for the identification of themes.
RESULTS : We focus on two particular themes, ‘acknowledgement, recognition and
respect’ and ‘the prestige hierarchy of mental illness in older people’. We highlight
how older people and their care partners experience discontinuities in their everyday interactions with nurses and care workers and that this impacts on their
experience of person-centred care.
CONCLUSIONS : Older people with mental health needs and their care partners need
high levels of energy to express their needs and have them met in a way that
reflects principles of partnership working. RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE : Nurses and care workers need to consider how
‘tasks’ can be used as a vehicle for creating emotional connections with service
users. Service managers and leaders need to consider the implications of discontinuities
in care on service user, care partner, nurses and care workers experiences.