The View from the Chair
Since November 2016 there have been numerous changes and events
which have challenged us - and I am not just talking about Trump!
Harold Macmillan is famously attributed as having answered the
question of what a prime minister most feared as being "Events,
dear boy, events" and this reminder that we are never in
charge of what comes next has been amply borne out by the last few
months of activity for the Faculty and the Executive.
ICD 11 First there was the request from our
American colleagues to weigh in against a proposal coming to the
ICD11 committee to reclassify dementia under Neurology rather than
under Mental and Behavioural Disorders. This move was both
illogical and potentially damaging. I thank the Executive for
helping me write a robust response on this and I also want to
acknowledge the work of members of the Faculty Executive in a
whirlwind of activity to garner support from numerous other
organisations such as The European Association of Geriatric
Psychiatry, the IPA, RANZCP to name but a few. Unfortunately, I
cannot at this stage say that the issue has been resolved but I
will update you when I get any more information
NHSE's five year forward
view Another area that has required
urgent attention has been NHS England's Five Year Forward View
which has moved into the phase of writing implementation guidance.
There has been a lot to do to ensure that the mental health needs
of the elderly are appropriately represented in this
document. NHS E and Professor Burns has been very supportive
of our input to this important process, and we have developed an
excellent working relationship, but this increased profile has
meant a flood of invitations to attend meetings and a huge amount
of work commenting on large documents.
The All Party Parliamentary Group for ageing and older
people decided to focus on mental health and therefore
when the opportunity came up to speak at the House of Commons about
depression in older people this was too good an opportunity to
However, we do try not to be driven by external events. We
have a Strategic Plan and I am pleased to report that there has
also been a great deal of planned activity that has been closely
focused on our four strategic objectives
1. Raise the profile of the Old Age
As the profile of the Faculty is increasing we are being invited
to more meetings at national level where older people's health is
under discussion such as the Steering Group membership of the Adult
Mental Health programme at NHS England and the Older People Mental
Health Expert Advisory Group. We have also been asked to attend the
HQIP Review of the National Audits for both Stroke and Falls
2. To improve how the Faculty engages with its members
and ensures member retention.
We are a national body and it is important to
resist a tendency to be London-centric and to ensure that we all
learn from each other. I am liaising more closely with the members
of the Executive who leaders of the devolved areas and they will
now be giving their updates at the beginning of the Executive so
that we can bear their particular issues in mind in our later wider
discussions. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them
for all their hard work
I am looking forward to visiting Falkirk in
May to meet colleagues in Scotland. I added my comments to
the response on the new Welsh Dementia Strategy but I want to
congratulate Dr Aziz on his written responses and excellent
presentation to the Welsh Assembly which can be seen on their
One area we can contribute to is to ensure that when new posts
are advertised the job descriptions are appropriate to make best
use of our skills and produce jobs that are doable.
Mike Walker has kindly taken the lead and is piloting a review
of some job descriptions currently in place and I look forward to
hearing if members find this useful.
Thanks to Dr Krishnan the Annual Conference had a wide range of
presentations which I hope colleagues have enjoyed and we will be
reviewing the feedback and using it to design next year's
We continue to add more useful resources to the resource section
on the website. Please do take a look and share with others your
good practice examples.
3. To identify and mitigate the current barriers to
improving recruitment within the Old Age Psychiatry at all levels
of training aiming to improve recruitment rates.
We commissioned a survey looking at why trainees do or do not
choose to train in old age psychiatry. The results are now
being analysed so we can finalise our recruitment strategy based on
We have also asked about trainees' training experiences to help
with developing the curriculum. It is essential that we ensure
trainees get an enjoyable relevant and inspiring experience when
working in old age psychiatry.
I spoke at the National Old Age Trainees Conference and I was
particularly struck by the enthusiasm, commitment and passion of
the trainees who were in the room.
I was also interviewed by the Student BMJ explaining why old age
psychiatry is such a great career and I am looking forward to
seeing the result of this in print.
4. To increase awareness of mental health conditions in
I have had a piece published in The Times on depression
in older people and, as mentioned above. I have spoken at the All
Party Parliamentary Group on depression in older people.
Excitingly at long last the older persons' version of “Mind Ed”
(a web-based educational resource which can be accessed by carers
and people with mental health issues) has the go ahead. Claire
Hilton will be the Editor. If this is something that any of you
would like to help contribute with then please do not hesitate to
let us know. I am now looking at if there is anything we can do to
raise awareness of the site when it is finished in about a
The Older People's Mental Health Primer for GPs is currently at
the stage of seeking final endorsements before being disseminated.
It will go on the resource page of the website when finalised.
We are starting a joint project with the British Geriatrics
Society looking at depression in care homes and together we are
developing an addendum to the Improving the Physical Health of
Adults with Severe Mental Illness: Report -Oct-2016.
I have also had discussions with pharmacists about how the
Faculty can support them with increasing awareness of the mental
health needs of older people. The Royal Pharmaceutical
Society will be focusing on mental health and at the end of the
year. This will help get some real momentum behind raising
I have also been liaising with the communications department
about our communication strategy and our stakeholder engagement. We
have a real need for relevant and publishable case histories to
help us engage effectively with the media so if you have anyone who
could be contacted please let me know.
Finally, other new work
We are planning to update the "CR165 Our
Invisible Addicts" report on Older Persons
Substance Misuse with the help of the Addictions
I see the next six months as being a very exciting time.
The wider community are beginning to realise that the mental health
needs of older people are different and their needs must be met.
We have support in this from our College’s president-elect,
Wendy Burn. She has just given an interview in the Health
Service Journal that has warned that mental health services for
older people are being “neglected” and that she will make it a
priority for the College. This is fantastic news and I think this
is a wonderful opportunity for us to explain to the public and
commissioners the extent of the need and what specialist skills we
bring to meet this need. We can use this momentum to make
sure that our patients and their carers get the excellent care they
deserve and our expertise in being able to deliver this care is
Harold Macmillan also spoke of the “winds of change” and also
said that we've "never had it so good". It would be great if
both aphorisms become true for our specialism and our patients.
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