Older forensic mental healthcare patients in England: demographics, physical health, mental wellbeing, cognitive ability and quality of life
NIHR Open Research
Older individuals (e.g., 55 years and over) constitute a growing proportion of the forensic mental health patient population. As a group, they are vulnerable to health outcomes similar to other individuals with serious mental disorders of the same age; however, these concerns can be compounded by complex forensic-related care backgrounds and clinical presentations, lengthy periods of time spent in prison or psychiatric hospitals, substance use histories, and crime perpetration or victimisation.
... The healthcare needs and strengths of this group are not well understood. The aim of this study was to identify and describe the demographic, physical health, mental wellbeing, cognitive ability, and quality of life profiles of older forensic patients in community, low, medium, and high security settings in England. Methods: A cross-sectional mixed-methods study design was used. N=37 forensic patients aged 55 years and over were interviewed and completed questionnaires. Data were also collected from patient records. Results: Most patients were male and were diagnosed with psychosis. The most frequently committed index offence types were violent offences. Patients were prescribed 7.6 medications on average and had average anticholinergic effect on cognition scores of 2.4. Nearly half the sample had diabetes, with an average BMI score of 31.7 (indicating obesity). Possible cognitive impairment was identified in 65% of the sample. Patients' assessments of their recovery-related quality of life and mental wellbeing did not differ from published UK general population values. Assessments of quality of life were positively correlated with the ability to undertake everyday activities and cognitive performance. Conclusions: We suggest that forensic services are well-placed to provide holistic mental and physical care to this group but that they should co-develop with patients a greater range of age-appropriate meaningful activities that are mindful of mobility issues and consider implementing more cognition-based and physical health interventions.