About the service

The Durham Dales community mental health service offers assessment, diagnosis and treatment for older people who live in a community setting who have depression, anxiety, dementia and other mental health illness and also have complex physical health problems or related frailty. This includes those people living in 24 hour residential and nursing settings.

The team provides a range of services including:

  • Memory services, including diagnosis of dementia and monitoring of medication
  • Carer education
  • Specialist assessments from nursing and medical staff, occupational therapy, psychology and physiotherapy
  • Assessment of mood, anxiety and other symptoms of mental health illness.

Patients are given treatment and support to all them to recover or manage mental ill health, and the service also works closely with patients with enduring mental health problems.

The service operates 7 days a week, from 9am to 5pm, with flexible arrangements according to the needs of the patient.

The team

The multi-disciplinary team (mdt) includes:

  • Community psychiatric nurses (CPNs)
  • Doctors
  • Support workers
  • Occupational therapists
  • Physiotherapists
  • Psychology
  • Social services staff.

Advice from other professionals is also available, for example dieticians or pharmacists.

How to access the service

Patients can self refer to the service, however patients are mainly referred to the service by a GP or from another health and social care professional with the agreement of the GP.

The assessment starts with the GP completing a physical health check and obtaining bloods and urine sample. The results of these investigations are sent to the community mental health service with an explanation of the presenting problem.

The service then completes an assessment within 28 days of receiving the referral. Assessments are carried out at home or in a clinic/hospital setting, whichever is appropriate. Carers or family members are included in the process, at the patient’s discretion.

Urgent assessments are seen within 24 hours.

An assessment takes approximately two hours and consists of an interview and if required an assessment of mood and function. This assessment can then be followed up by referrals for head scans, blood tests and other professional assessments, such as occupational therapy.

Once a diagnosis has been determined, treatment options are discussed with the patient and family or carer.

The Durham Dales community team is based at:

  • Auckland Park Hospital, Westfield Road, Bishop Auckland, County Durham, DL14 6AE. Tel number: 01388 645300
  • Richardson Hospital, Victoria Road, Barnard Castle, County Durham, DL12 8HT. Tel number: 01833 696500 (switchboard)