The Psychiatry of Old Age (POA) Service in Sligo Leitrim; serving the community for over 20 years

HSE Media Statement; 17th January 2022

Community Healthcare Organisation Area 1 (Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan and Sligo)

The Psychiatry of Old Age (POA) Service in Sligo Leitrim Mental Health Services is marking over 20 years of serving the communities in Sligo Leitrim.

The POA service is a specialist mental health team offering comprehensive, community oriented services for people aged 65 years and over who develop functional mental health illnesses or dementia with behavioural and psychological problems.

The service which was established in 2001, currently provides a range of consultant – led community and acute care for patients referred from Sligo, Leitrim, West Cavan and South Donegal with a highly functioning Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) based in Liscarney House, Sligo.

The specialist POA team has multidisciplinary membership and includes doctors, mental health nurses, occupational therapy, clinical psychology, social work, administration staff and a multitask attendant, in line with National Mental Health Policy (A Vision for Change, 2006 and Sharing the Vision, 2020).

The team operates using an assertive outreach model, with rapid clinical response, and provides specialised multidisciplinary psychiatric services through fixed and mobile clinics, domiciliary visiting including Nursing Home/ Community Hospital visits and Liscarney House Day Hospital attendance.

This POA Service has an Evidence Based Practice emphasis and a strong research ethos with a focus on services based research leading to continuous quality improvement of the clinical service provided to service users and families.  

Feedback from service users and families on the service provided is encouraged through Care Opinion Ireland ( to facilitate ongoing service improvement.

Professor Geraldine McCarthy, Consultant in Psychiatry of Old Age, established the service in 2001. “It's a community oriented mental health service for older people with mental health difficulties, mainly functional psychiatric illness, depression or psychosis. And also people with dementia that may have behavioural or psychological problems. We have a multidisciplinary team, and it was my job to get the service started from the greenfield site and to get a whole range of different disciplines involved from medical nursing, occupational therapy, clinical psychology, social work. It's been really important to have a good evidence base for this service.

“So from the very beginning, we've had a very strong research ethos and we've been involved in a number of Interreg cross-border European studies looking for example, at brain health and diabetes to prevent depression and dementia. We're involved in a drug trial for Alzheimer's disease, and we've done lots of services based research to try to enhance the quality of care that we provide the right care, in the right way, at the right time, as close to the person's home as possible.”

Dr Catherine Dolan, Consultant Old Age Psychiatry Sligo Leitrim Mental Health Services explained about the team at Liscarney House. “I will be leading a new team that will be the full of multi-disciplinary professionals, including an occupational therapist, a social worker, psychologist, a trainee psychiatrist and administration. It’s a very exciting development, and it will improve services for older people in the area and build on the strong ethos of excellent culture of care for older people in the service. We will continue to in-reach to people's homes into nursing homes.

“We will continue to develop our day hospital, but the focus will really be on bringing care to people where they need it and where ever their home might be. And that isn't just that isn't just a hospital for us, it's in the community and linking in with all the services that are already there, including voluntary services and community services. It's a very exciting development and I'm looking forward to continuing with this and getting the team on board and we're in the early stages of development.”

To further explain what the service provides please see video here ; jzmYE


Last updated on: 17 / 01 / 2022