Katherine Lewis and Sarah Beauclerk
Hywel Dda University Health Board
The pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing health and access inequalities and many older adult patient groups in the community are experiencing reduced mobility, increased weakness and pain, and consistently low feelings. One in five older adults is experiencing a deterioration of memory since lockdown, with reduction of mental stimulation leading to forgetfulness and confusion. These factors―along with a reduction in physical activity, loss of social routine, and continued uncertainty―have meant that social anxiety and feelings of isolation and low mood are at an all-time high. The Pembs OACMHT continue to see a higher rate of referrals for older people experiencing low mood and suicidal thoughts or intent. The OACMHT wanted to embrace technology and opportunities to improve on patient outcomes.
- Reduce anxiety and depression, and decrease levels of distress in patients.
- Improved access to services for at risk groups.
- Increase evidence based practice utilising up to date technology and approaches.
VR mental health interventions were provided to older people experiencing low mood and suicidal thoughts, to elevate mood and provide positive treatment outcomes.
VR mental health intervention was consistently provided to 6 patients over a 6 month period. Other patients joined on a ad hoc basis. All had previously reported either suicidal thoughts, plans, intent; or had made a attempts in the 6 months prior to starting VR interventions. Some had received care and treatment as an inpatient at the start or prior to joining the VR group. All patients that participated consistently self reported positive outcomes, none required referral to Crisis and home treatment, none required readmission to manage mental health risks and all remained free from intrusive suicidal thoughts.
In a most significant change interview, one patient’s favourite experience was one she had specially requested of a Male Voice Choir. Not only did the song featured happen to be one her husband had sung to her, the patient saw how the experience had affected another patient very positively, inspiring her to sing and smile after a period of limited response.