The Care Services Improvement Partnership is working to ensure older people with mental health diagnoses have broad access to all services and are not restricted within mental health specialisms

Older people's mental health has slowly but surely been rising to the top of the health and social care agenda.

Everybody’s Businesswas published in 2005 and since then the Care Services Improvement Partnership has been working hard to support its implementation. The report did not set out to develop new policies but to improve practice at the front line.

Through its older people's mental health programme, CSIP is well aware of how this group of vulnerable users and their carers often fall between services for older people and those for adults with mental health needs, both in commissioning arrangements and in service delivery.

We aim to make sure older people with mental health needs can access appropriate treatment either in mainstream provision or in specialist mental health services.

Too often, a mental illness diagnosis is used as a reason to exclude people from services. An example of exclusion is provided by intermediate care.Despite strong evidence that people with mild or moderate dementia can benefit immensely from rehabilitation, it is not routinely available to this group.

Similarly, it is often assumed people with dementia must be cared for in specialist residential homes, even though most people with this diagnosis live at home in their communities, supported by families, neighbours and mainstream services.

CSIP has found that services supporting adults of working age, such as befriending or outreach services, stop when an individual reaches the age of 65. Ageism is alive and well unfortunately, despite the provisions of standard one of the national service framework for older people.

The Department of Health has recently announced that it will be developing a dementia strategy over the next year. Again, it will not be producing new policy but focusing on how to implement what we already know needs to be done.

This is great news. CSIP is playing its part in developing the strategy and providing implementation support through its national and regional resources. However, we will also continue to work on behalf of all those older people with other mental health problems, such as delirium and depression, to make sure services meet their needs.