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J Am Geriatr Soc. 1996 Mar;44(3):314-20.

A community development and outreach program in geriatric mental health: four years' experience.

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Depatment of Psychiatry, McMaster Universtity, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.



To describe a geriatric mental health outreach program based on a community development model and to review 4 years of experience with this program.


Program model and description of implementation experience.


A geriatric mental health outreach program of a regional psychiatric hospital, serving a primarily non-urban area, with offices in the community it serves.


The program targets community-dwelling or institutionalized older persons with late-onset mental health problems and/or behavioral disturbances, persons with long-standing psychiatric disorders with age-related changes, and their caregivers.


The program is a geriatric mental health outreach and consultation service that emphasizes community development and caregiver education. Program components include an interprofessional consultation team, a specialized information and resource service, educational service initiatives, and an ongoing role in planning and coordination activity in the local health care system.


Program monitoring, including a patient database and a description of program activities.


Cognitive impairment, behavioral disturbance, physical/medical problems and depression are the most common reasons for referral to the outreach program. Referred patients (mean age 78; 65% female) have usually (almost 90% of cases) been managed at a similar or lower level of care. Program activities have included focused educational initiatives in community and institutional settings and have emphasized the involvement and development of community caregivers and other local resources.


The program is a multifaceted effort to make efficient use of scarce specialized resources in a manner that is sensitive and responsive to local circumstances and needs. Experience to date has shown evidence of the feasibility and potential benefits of a comprehensive approach to community development and outreach in geriatric mental health.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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