Direct referrals from social services to community teams for older people with mental illness
Bouman, Walter P.
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AIMS AND METHOD: The aim of the study was to evaluate the open referral system from social services to a community mental health team [CMHT] for older people. Referral letters from social services to the specialist team were reviewed, as were the case notes. RESULTS: Of the 40 referrals, 95 per cent (n=38) were accepted by the CMHT. Only 15 per cent (n=six) fulfilled the team's existing referral criteria. The majority of referrals (n=36, 90 per cent) had details of the patient's mental health problems. None of the referrals with memory problems had a cognitive assessment. Of the 38 referrals accepted by the CMHT, 36 were found to be suffering from a mental illness. The open referral system from social services did not increase the total number of annual referrals. CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Social services play an important role in identifying and referring older people with mental illness and ensure a potentially rapid referral route bypassing primary care. The practice of accepting direct referrals from social services should be encouraged and made an integral part of the referral system. 1 table 11 refs. [Abstract]