The mentally ill in nursing and old people's homes

Research paper by D. Lehmkuhl, G. Bosch, I. Steinhart

Indexed on: 01 Dec '87Published on: 01 Dec '87Published in: Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology


Having taken into account the advantages and disadvantages of all the investigations hitherto carried out in the German Federal Republic into the prevalence of the mentally ill and handicapped in geriatric nursing and old people's homes, we conducted our own research project using our own investigatory method. This involved the detailed recording of the mentally ill in such homes and the type of treatment they received, the details of which are set out in this report. By renouncing the costly, individual examination by medical staff, and thus in contrast to all methods used to date, we combined an interview of home staff on their patients' previous history and on medical findings and treatment, with an evaluation of all available medical records by a qualified psychiatrist. Our field of interest was primarily directed towards a more economic way of conducting research in large-scale planning surveys, as well as finding a way of identifying individual cases of mental illness in homes by using easily ascertainable and objective data. The results of the investigation, together with the strategies behind the various methods, are also discussed. It seems to the authors that the approach employed here, in spite of a possible lack of validity in certain cases, is sufficient to provide answers to a large number of questions relating to the need for care and, in terms of cost and practicability, more suited than expensive individual medical examination.