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elderly man walking by trees

Older people 

Care for older people represents the largest area of adult nursing in the UK

Whatever care setting you work in, you will be regularly caring for older people with a diverse set of needs, which in turn require diverse expertise. In this section you will find resources and guidance on the key issues related to the care of older people.

older people frail

Resources supporting the care of older people

Delirium - Information, guidance and tools to help you identify and manage episodes of delirium in older patients. Find out more about our Delirium Champion resources.

Falls - Guidance and resources for nursing professionals on the prevention, treatment and management of falls in older people

Frailty - Get advice and resources on identifying frailty in older patients and choosing the right interventions to help manage their condition

Meaningful activity - Fundamental to the delivery of high quality, safe and effective care for residents living in care homes

Supporting healthy ageing - This page looks at how nurses and health care assistants can support physical, mental and sexual activity in later life

Mental health in later life - Information on how mental health in older people and how nurses can work with older people experiencing mental health issues

How nurses can support older people’s mental health

Health care professionals and nurses are positioned to make a difference to support older people’s mental health. Some top tips for nurses who may see a person with a mental health issue include:  

  • Starting the conversation. Older people tell us they want to be asked how they are feeling and find talking useful.    
  • Trying to get into the habit of asking about the emotional wellbeing of the people you see. 
  • Looking out for signs that the people you are seeing may be experiencing mental health issues.
  • Thinking about language. Older people can be put off by terms such as ‘mental health’ and ‘depression’. Try to use more informal language. 
  • Remembering that mental health issues in later life are not inevitable. With the right support, older people can recover. 
  • Being aware of mental health as a health issue and recognising the negative health effects of mental illness.
  • Knowing the risk factors which can lead to mental illness.
  • Assessing for potential mental health issues. Schedule longer or more frequent visits where possible.
  • Developing a resource/referral package that includes social and community organisations.
  • Treating underlying medical problems while initiating interventions to address mental health issues.
  • Understanding the need for a sensitive and person-centred/holistic approach.
Care home journey v2

Care home journey

The Care Home Journey is specifically designed to support nursing care in older peoples care homes. It is the first time the RCN has provided bespoke web pages for nurses working in this area of the independent sector and the content has been reviewed by current experts.

View the resource.

Safe staffing

Read RCN's thoughts on what we believe will be important to ensure the new legislation is as effective as possible.

Safe Staffing

Related to older people: information and guidance:

Professional lead for older people: information and guidance:

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Complex conversations and decisions for care home leaders

The RCN has created a four webinars for leaders and managers of care home to support complex and sensitive conversations in nursing practice.

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