Title: Wellness on Wheels for Older People with a Mental Illness
Author(s): Brian Tomney
Older people with mental illness are more likely to have increased difficulty in accessing health services due to social isolation and functional disability due to chronic and complex health problems. The Wellness on Wheels program was developed by the Northern Sydney Local Health District community Older Peoples Mental Health Service (OPMHS) and focuses on providing OPMHS clinicians with the opportunity and resources to visit older people with mental illness at home to carry out a range of physical health and wellbeing activities. In each of the community services, the program is led by a senior clinician who works to increase the capacity of all clinicians to carry out physical health screening. Since the program commenced in July 2020 the percentage of consumers of OPMHS who have regular metabolic monitoring completed has increased to over 75% from close to zero in some areas. There has also been increasing consideration and discussion of physical health issues when clinicians, consumers and carers carry out care planning and care reviews. Further work is required to ensure that the improvements seen so far are sustained, in particular in respect of training provided to all members of the multidisciplinary teams, in the provision of resources to carry out physical health monitoring and health promotion activities and in designing appropriate pathways to escalate care when physical screening raises concerns.