Enabling older people with mental health needs to engage with community social care: A scoping review to inform a theory of change

Louise Newbould , Susan Tucker, Mark Wilberforce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite apparent need, many older people with cognitive impairment and/or mental health needs do not fully engage with social care. This can manifest in different ways, including passive or aggressive attempts to avoid or repel care workers. However, little is known about how to support such individuals in their own homes and deliver effective care. Against this background, we undertook a scoping review with a view to developing a preliminary theory of change suggesting how care might be modified to engage this client group. The most recent search was conducted on 21/04/21. Papers were included if they i) focused on older people (65+) living at home with social care needs; and ii) described difficulties/problems with the provision/receipt of social care associated with individuals’ mental health needs. Twenty-six citations were identified through electronic database searches and reference screening, and the results were charted according to key theory of change concepts (long- term outcomes, preconditions, interventions, rationale & assumptions). All the included papers related to people with dementia. Four subgroups of papers were identified. The first highlight those external conditions that make it more likely an intervention will be successful; the second describe specific interventions to engage older people who by virtue of their mental health needs have not engaged with social care; the third explore what services can do to increase service uptake by older people with mental health needs and their caregivers more generally; and the fourth details theoretical approaches to explaining the behaviour of people with dementia. Each provides information that could be used to inform care delivery and the development of interventions to improve engagement with health and social care for these individuals. The study concludes that different framing of engagement difficulties, such as that offered through positioning theory, may assist in future service design.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth and Social Care in the Community
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 5 Nov 2021


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