Nurses care for older adults in health and illness across the full range of health care settings. Especially in late life, physical illness often precipitates and/or is accompanied by psychiatric symptoms. Therefore it is important that nursing education programs provide knowledge and skills that prepare nurses to care for older adults with mental health concerns and psychiatric/substance misuse disorders.
The Geropsychiatric Nursing Collaborative has developed the following resources to draw attention to the special needs of older adults.
- Definition of Geropsychiatric Nursing. This definition serves to guide future discussions about preparing nurses to care for older adults with mental health concerns.
- Key Concepts. These key concepts are foundational to the geropsychiatric nursing competency enhancements.
- Geropsychiatric Nursing Competency Enhancements. These enhancements are not intended to ‘stand-alone,’ but rather to enhance existing or to-be-developed competencies by relevant professional nursing organizations. The competency enhancements are organized in four topic areas: entry level and advanced practice level for Gerontological, Psychiatric-Mental Health and Other Specialties Caring for Older Adults, i.e. Adult, Family, Acute Care, and Women’s Health. The advanced level category is further categorized by role, either Nurse Practitioner or Clinical Nurse Specialist.
Based on the competency enhancements, the Geropsychiatric Nursing Collaborative is identifying and evaluating the quality and suitability (appropriateness, evidence base, relevance, cultural sensitivity, and currency) of extant curricular and training materials for each level of curricula and identifying gaps at both the entry level, i.e., Associate and Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and the advanced level, i.e.,Master of Science in Nursing in Gerontological, Psychiatric-Mental Health and Adult/Family/Acute Care Women’s Health Clinical Nurse Specialist and Nurse Practitioner Programs and the Doctor of Nursing Practice. The project will foster linkages of nursing education programs whose graduates will care for older adults to basic, graduate, post-graduate and continuing education geropsychiatric curricular offerings (courses, textbooks, journal articles, toolkits, training films, web-based courses and materials, course syllabi, and learning tools). All levels of nurses practicing in many different settings will require ‘retooling’ with current knowledge and skills in order to best provide mental health services to older adults.
The competency enhancements are meant to inform the development of new and the updating of existing nursing competencies for the level and specialty indicated.