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Home treatment services for acute mental disorders: an all-Ireland survey

  • B. O’Keeffe (a1) and V. Russell (a2)
Abstract
Objectives

To determine the distribution, functioning and perceived impact of home-based treatment (HBT) teams for acute mental disorders on the island of Ireland.

Methods

A 28-item questionnaire exploring the structure, staffing and operation of HBT teams was emailed to all clinical directors of mental health services in Ireland (n=26) and Northern Ireland (NI) (n=5). Quantitative data was analysed using the Survey Monkey package, while free-text responses to open questions were analysed for thematic content.

Results

In total, 11 of 16 (68%) mental health services in Ireland and four of five (80%) in NI confirmed the presence of HBT teams. For 80% of respondents the primary function of HBT was as an alternative to inpatient admission. All NI respondents reported provision of a 24/7 HBT service. A 7 day a week service was reported by 82% of Republic of Ireland respondents. In total, 70% of respondents reported a gate-keeping role for their teams. Staffing levels and multidisciplinary representation varied widely. Most respondents perceived HBT as improving patient/carer experience and cost-effectiveness.

Conclusions

Our findings suggest that the implementation of the HBT model in Ireland has not fulfilled the aspirations set out in mental health policy in both Irish jurisdictions. Many areas have no HBT services while wide variations in staffing levels and functioning persist. However, mental health services with established HBT teams appear convinced of their positive impact. An All-Ireland forum on HBT may help to define the model in an Irish context and standardise its future resourcing, operation and evaluation.

Copyright
Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: B. O’Keeffe, Finglas Community Mental Health Services, Century Business Park, St Margaret’s Road, Finglas, Dublin, Ireland. (Email: benjaminokeeffe@yahoo.ie)
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