Working life (old age psychiatry)

This page provides useful information about the roles and responsibilities of old age psychiatrists, where they work, who they work with and how they feel about their role.

“I chose old age psychiatry because it enabled me to use my medical skills as well as my psychiatric training. I stayed in old age psychiatry because of the patients, who have great stories to tell about their lives, the diverse multi-professional teams I work with and the fascinating, complex clinical problems we tackle (and often solve) for our patients.” - an old age psychiatrist.

There is certainly no typical working day in old age psychiatry.  The work also varies nationally according to the local NHS trust service model.

Old age psychiatrists working in a community mental health team often visit patients either in their own homes or residential nursing homes. They may also undertake outpatients’ clinics. Consultants based in hospitals will attend regular ward rounds and may also have outpatient clinics.

Regular team meetings are an important part of the working week. Complex cases will be discussed in multidisciplinary team meetings. Consultants will normally provide advice to colleagues in these forums and at other times following discussion of the issues.

Teaching and training both medical students and psychiatry trainees is also a vital aspect of the work.

Many elderly people also have physical health problems and so there is often the opportunity to work closely with colleagues in hospital settings such as stroke, neurology, geriatric medicine and clinical radiology

Old age psychiatrists often work a 9-5 Monday to Friday pattern, although they may also be involved in an on call rota. On calls are usually quiet in old age psychiatry.

The EU Working Time Directive limits the working week to 48 hours. It is also possible to work part-time once you are consultant, or to train on a less than full-time basis.

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