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Musgrove nurse leads project to help clinicians spot depression in older people - 05 August 2016

Musgrove nurse leads project to help clinicians spot depression in older people - 05 August 2016

Patients who are seen by Musgrove Park Hospital’s older person’s assessment team are now being routinely checked for signs of depression.

It follows a project carried out by a nurse practitioner at the hospital that looked at ways the NHS could improve the quality of care for older people.

Julie Vale, a nurse specialist in the care of older people, undertook the project as part of her Older Person’s Nurse Fellowship course at King’s College University London, passing with distinction.

Figures from a health survey for England show that four in 10 people aged 85 or above are affected by depression, and this often leads to other conditions that can result in an admission to hospital.

Julie’s project is set to be extended within the hospital with screening for depression becoming integrated into routine practice for all patients over 75.

Depression can have a serious impact on older people, often reducing their function, meaning they are more likely to need additional social care, and are at an increased risk of being admitted or re-admitted to hospital.

Julie is now planning to develop an education programme to make sure clinicians across the hospital are aware of best practice so the checks for depression can be rolled out across the hospital.

Julie said: “Despite screening for depression being recommended by the National Institute of Healthcare Excellence, it frequently remains unrecognised and often under treated or even untreated in older people.

“Of the 134 patients we have screened so far, 44 per cent have shown evidence of depression. We now identify this in their problem list, treatment and management plan and their GP is alerted in their discharge summary.

“I hope that my project will help to improve the knowledge and skills of staff across the hospital in spotting depression, which will in turn make a big difference to patients’ lives.

“The course has also provided me with up-to-date and enhanced knowledge and skills across all aspects of older people’s care, including dementia, delirium and falls, which is directly benefitting patients we see here at Musgrove.”