Older persons with severe mental illness – a doubly marginalized group and a challenge for future welfare organisations

This project focuses older people with severe mental illness (SMI), i.e. people 65 years and older who have experienced SMI for many years, in many cases for decades. The group of older people with SMI, here SMI-O, does not include dementia or mental illness with an onset after retirement. SMI-O is nationally and internationally a "forgotten", often neglected group with special needs. It is a group that is marginalized twice, by being old and having SMI. SMI-O is a challenge for welfare systems worldwide since the group is expected to increase as part of an aging population. However, the knowledge about SMI-O is scarce. The group SMI-O is particularly interesting to follow due to fundamental changes in psychiatric care after the 1995 Psychiatric reform. Currently, the group partly consists of older people who have been residents in mental hospitals for years, and partly of "new" older people with SMI, who have mainly received care from open psychiatric care and municipal social services. The project aims to develop knowledge about the target group's living conditions and needs of health and social care over two decades, and how the organization of care, support and service has changed in light of the Psychiatric reform. The project expects to increase the knowledge of today’s conditions of care, support and services for older people with SMI for different age cohorts, and to indicate future needs for care, support and service of the target group.

This research is supported by FORTE, the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare.

Contact: Per Bülow, Pia Bülow