Sensitizing Inpatient Mental Health Staff to the Challenges of Aging – 2018

Although the aging inpatient population in state psychiatric hospitals is growing significantly, there are few examples of available training to improve staff knowledge and practice. The current article describes a 10-week training series developed through a university and psychiatric hospital collaboration. Training was attended by 135 direct care nursing and rehabilitation staff and focused on improving aging awareness, problem solving, using person-centered therapeutic techniques, and engaging older adults. Staff reported improvements in therapeutic techniques, knowledge, concrete strategies for providing care, and stress management skills. Specialized training to improve understanding of aging processes and communication with older adults may also improve inpatient staff knowledge and skills. As the aging inpatient population in state psychiatric hospitals continues to grow, future work should develop manualized training initiatives to address communication needs of older adults and intervention strategies that can be used by mental health nursing staff when working with this population.

Michelle R. Zechner, PhD, LSW, CPRP; Joseph C. Birkmann, MPA, LSW; Jennifer Sperduto, MS, CPRP; Carlos Pratt, PhD, CPRP
Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services, January 12, 2018