Health Workforce for Geriatric Populations was appointed in early 2011 to carry out the charge. The 16-member committee included experts in geriatric psychiatry, substance use, social work, psychology, nursing, direct care, epidemiology, workforce development, labor economics, long-term care, health care delivery and financing, and health care disparities.
The committee’s core charge was to assess the MH/SU needs of adults age 65 and older and to recommend how the nation should prepare the MH/SU workforce to meet these needs (Box S-1). The committee focused on the full spectrum of workers who are engaged in the detection, diagnosis, treatment, care, and management of MH/SU conditions in older adults—ranging from personnel who may have minimal education to specialty professionals with the most advanced psychiatric and neurological training. This includes
• MH/SU specialists such as general psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, psychiatric nurses, and substance use counselors who may provide services to patients of any age;
• primary care providers, such as general internists, family medicine practitioners, advanced practice registered nurses, and physician assistants who may provide services to patients of any age (but may have daily contact with older adults who have MH/SU conditions);
• primary care providers with specialized training in the care of older adults, such as geriatricians and geriatric nurses;
• MH/SU providers with specialized training in the care of older adults, such as geriatric psychiatrists, gerontological nurses, geropsychologists, and gerontological social workers;
• direct care workers (DCWs) who, with minimal training, are employed to provide supportive services either in facilities or in the home;
• peer support providers who, with special training, teach peers the skills and behaviors to self-manage their mental illness; and
• informal caregivers such as family members, friends, and volunteer community members with the potential to identify and support older adults who may need MH/SU services.
The committee limited its scope in accordance with the sponsor’s suggestions. The study’s target population was older adults who have a prevalent MH/SU condition for which there were sufficient data for study (including the behavioral and psychiatric symptoms of dementia). The principal diagnoses of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, intellectual disability, and autism spectrum disorder were excluded. Also out of scope were the effectiveness of individual therapeutic interventions,