Sage has made a submission to the Joint Committee on the Future of Mental Health Care, which was established in 2017 to achieve cross-party consensus on a long-term vision for mental health care and the direction of mental health policy in Ireland.
In our submission we highlighted the mental health challenges for vulnerable adults and older people, and the challenges a person with a primary mental health condition can encounter as they age. Among these challenges is the availability of accessible, adequate and appropriate mental health services to adapt and meet a person’s changing needs.
The submission outlined the impact of loneliness, social isolation and loss experienced by many older adults, and the under-diagnoses and under-treatment of depression and anxiety. Sage also highlighted the prevalence of polypharmacy for older people and people with an intellectual disability with a mental health condition, and the current lack of legislative safeguards to prevent the use of sedation purely for the management of a person’s behaviour for convenience.
Sage highlighted the lack of discrepancies in provision of mental health services around the country and the impact of this on older people in long-term care, and called for the statutory right to care in the community or other appropriate supported environment which provides for a flexible continuum of care, addressing individual needs and respecting choice.
Amongst Sage’s recommendations is recognition of the role and practice of independent advocacy, the right to access and be represented by an independent advocate, and for the establishment of a National Council for Support and Advocacy.