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The Experiences of Clinicians Caring for Older Adults with Dual Diagnosis: An Exploratory Study
journal contributionposted on 2017-01-01, 00:00 authored by Adam SearbyAdam Searby, P Maude, I McGrath
© 2017 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. Dual diagnosis has been identified as a significant challenge to mental health services, resulting in higher rates of psychiatric relapse and greater illness severity. Much research explores dual diagnosis in the adult mental health cohort, however little research attention has been paid to older adults with dual diagnosis. Far from being a trivial issue, preliminary studies have shown that dual diagnosis in older adults is under diagnosed and poorly identified by clinicians with few specific treatment options available. In addition, studies of the ageing baby boomer cohort demonstrate a potential for dual diagnosis presentations to increase in the coming years. This article explores the experiences of a clinical team providing care to older adults with dual diagnosis in Melbourne, Australia, through a semi-structured interview process. The participants described a number of systemic barriers to providing care to the older adults with dual diagnosis presenting to the mental health service, in addition to feeling poorly prepared and expressing a degree of clinical helplessness. Additionally, the participants described service improvement, which included a strong dual diagnosis culture in the leadership team of the mental health service and role modelling dual diagnosis competent practice among clinicians.