By Debbie le Quesne

Depression in care homes: Unmasking the hidden ‘spin’

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I quite like the Telegraph, perhaps because in my experience it’s a little less vicious than the Daily Mail when it comes to reporting on care homes.

But I might be persuaded to change my mind.

Front page: Almost half of all older people in care homes are depressed and think condition is a ‘normal part of ageing.’

In a report commissioned by NHS England and supported by the Government, it found “older people’s needs are neglected” with most of them not even seeking treatment.

It also informed us that most in residential care settings think that depression is now a “normal part of ageing”.

The Telegraph said it was a “ landmark NHS report.”

Now for the figures: “Four in 10 people in nursing homes are depressed while one in five older people who live in their own homes suffer from the condition, with rates among older women even higher.”

Mr Cameron told The Telegraph: “Mental health is a major problem in our country and it must be properly addressed.

“By providing this extra £1bn a year for mental health care we will make sure it gets the attention in the NHS it needs.

“But I want to go even further and end the status quo that sees more than half of people with mental health conditions unable to find a job – ensuring tens of thousands are able to find or return to work over the next five years.”

The report concludes that people with mental health conditions suffer from poor physical health and that those with severe mental illnesses die on average 15-20 years earlier than the rest of the population.

Call me a cynic, but the timing of Mr Cameron’s plans to invest £1billion a year in improving people’s mental health, were unveiled just as the report was released. And I have to ask too: When residents were asked to partake in this survey, just how ere the questions asked. . . and that’s key to findings.

For example, leading questions could hardly be trusted to deliver proper clinical data, could they?

If I were to ask any elderly person in a care setting if they felt depressed about having to give up their own home, we all know what the answer would be.

I’m pretty sure I’d know the answer too if I asked a housebound person if they felt depressed about not being able to get out and about. Degrees of depression are in layman’s terms hard to define, but I suspect those isolated in their own homes are probably more depressed that those in a residential setting.

And how fortunate the timing is . . just right to make Government look like they doing so much for mental health with a pledge that “nearly 30,000 people with mental health problems will be given extra support to help them find work or help them keep their jobs.”

What’s this have to do with our elderly?

Then we read Ministers will spend more than £300million on “talking therapies” – psychological support for people with mental health problems. And . . . a further £55million on doubling the number of employment advisers in psychological therapy centres, while also encouraging more therapists to work in job centres.

This is not a story about depression in our care homes at all. It’s a collection of political sound bites about employment and the general issues of getting the mentally ill back to work.

I’m genuinely shocked the Telegraph is so obviously clumsy in the way it’s own political allegiance is displayed here.

Oh, and by the way, thanks for spreading the good word about our care homes (not).




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