Psychiatric liaison services

Psychiatric liaison services for older people provide mental health assessment and treatment for people who are inpatients in hospital or for those who may present at an A&E department and be in need of a mental health assessment.

Sometimes when people go into hospital for treatment for a physical illness they may also be feeling depressed, anxious or paranoid. They could be hearing voices or may be forgetful and confused. If this is the case, the ward staff may refer to the psychiatric liaison service based locally at the acute hospital, usually linked closely with the accident and emergency (A&E) department.

The teams comprise mental health clinicians who specialise in working with older people who have mental health concerns. If a referral is made, a specialist doctor, nurse, occupational therapist or psychologist may come and assess the person’s mental health needs on the acute ward. These professionals will make recommendations to improve the individual’s mental health.

The teams have easy access to other specialist mental health services such as inpatient mental health wards, memory services or community mental health teams where treatment can be continued at home or in the specialist ward. The team can support you whilst you are in the hospital ward and monitor how you are feeling or if any treatments recommended are effective.

In addition to this, individuals may be brought by a family member / ambulance, or referred by a GP to an A&E departments. Alternatively, individuals could self-present at A&E. Within A&E, the same liaison service can assess, treat and make recommendations again to improve an individual’s mental health, accessing the same services as outlined above.

How to access these services:

People can be referred to psychiatric liaison services by the hospital inpatient ward that is delivering their care or by the A&E department. The service will assess anyone who is referred, regardless of where the person lives, and they will ensure the appropriate follow up services are contacted.

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