Oncogeriatrics? My “What’s wrong with the BBC’s Health Tracker” Rant

This week I am going to refer to another Blog piece from the British Geriatrics Society because it’s written by someone working locally in the West of Scotland. Dr. Kirsty Colquhoun has been a consultant geriatrician, working in Glasgow, since August 2015 and her specialty is Oncogeriatrics. Not a term I am either familiar with or like but let’s just go with it. In her blog she discusses the BGS Oncogeriatrics Conference on 7 December 2017 at the Wellcome Collection in London. Worth a look even if it’s just to get your hands on the Cancer Services Coming of Age Report from 2012. I may not like the name chosen for what she does but I would support her in her efforts to see Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment used in cancer care as well as other areas where it’s also extremely useful. See this Cochrane Review   about its use.

This week also saw the release by the BBC of their NHS Tracker. The tracker uses the latest published data on performance against three key NHS waiting-time measures:

  • A&E treatment
  • cancer care
  • planned operations and care, such as knee and hip replacements

and pulls this data from currently published NHS and Government office data to allow comparisons across the UK, but be warned there are differences between how the targets are measured in each part of the UK. So is this a good thing or a bad thing? My own feelings are neither of these. It’s missing the point completely. Of course, the NHS is missing its targets. Its grossly underfunded, short of staff and very short of staff in key positions, like radiology, gerontology and more…. Do we really need another measure of how bad things may be getting, or should we tackle this! (chronic underfunding when compared with other westernised economies)

 

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From https://epianalysis.wordpress.com/2012/07/18/usversuseurope/

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Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival has Started @MH_arts; Also Learn More About Older Carers

This week saw the start of the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival 2017 which takes place from the 10th. to the 29th of October across the country  There are lots of interesting events on of relevance to older people experiencing mental health issues. There is so much on, that you are probably better searching for something local yourself to go and see. Whatever you do I am sure it will be enlightening.

I also found “Chief cook and bottle washer” which is a film created by the Bournemouth University PIER partnership and 11 male carers over the age of 85. in the video, These older carers share their insights on being an older carer; how life has changed and their key messages for practitioners.

Before you watch the video it’s worth noting that carers over the age of 85 are the only demographic of carers where men outnumber women (59%). Men are more likely to become carers in older age than at other times in their life and usually as a result of caring for their partners. As such, older male carers are more likely to live with the person they are caring for. Many carers have physical and mental health issues themselves and evidence shows that caring for someone further increases the likelihood of isolation, loneliness and depression and physical health problems. In the future, the number of older carers will increase so this is a timely film about a little-researched group of careers. A theme amongst the carers’ experience was the loss of free time and many of the men spoke of feeling increasingly isolated. Time to act? Even if we don’t act now we need more projects and research like this.

Scotland’s Obesity Issue and What About Mental Health?

This week saw the publication of the Scottish Health Survey for 2016. Possibly the most significant piece of news from this for older people was the following information reported on BBC Scotland’s Health Page Scotland’s health: What we learned

From the report, they have stated that amongst adults men were significantly more likely than women to be overweight including obese (68% compared with 61%). Worryingly it was adults aged 65-74 who were most likely to be obese (36% of all adults this age). The average BMI (Body Mass Index) for both Scottish men and women was 27.7, up from 27.0 in 2003.A BMI of 25 or less is said to be normal and 25 to 30 is overweight.

A BMI of 25 or less is said to be normal and 25 to 30 is overweight.

Obesity was lowest in the 16 to 24 age group (14%) but it doubled to 28% in the 25-35 range. The largest jump between age groups. It would appear that while the message to reduce obesity in Scottish children is getting through to the public the same cannot be said of the message about the need for our older people to avoid obesity and stay active to reduce the likelihood of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The Scottish Government are planning an ambitious new strategy to improve Scotland’s diet and help address obesity. Let’s hope they include older people in their plans.

For information about staying healthy in old age, this page on the Age Scotland site is useful

Perhaps a missing element from this survey is more detail on the mental health of older people. More will be reported about this but it’s perhaps worth remebering that up to 40% of people over the age of 65 experience mental health problems and about one-fifth of all suicides happen in older people. Last month Alistair Burns, the National Clinical Director for Older People’s Mental Health and Dementia took to social media to announce the launch of “A Practice Primer on Mental Health in Older People” a document which highlights for  primary care health workers in particular GP’s, symptoms often attributed to ‘old age’ but where a mental health diagnosis and follow-up may be more appropriate.

You can read what he said here and find the link to the document he is discussing (if you didn’t click the link above already) In the document he talks about this film that looks at Improving Access to Psychological Therapies. I am with him on this!

 

International Day of the Older Person 2017

The International Day of Older Persons is observed on October 1 each year. So today is the day and I thought I should mark it.

This year’s theme is about enabling and expanding the contributions of older people in their families, communities and societies at large. It focuses on the pathways that support full and effective participation in old age, in accordance with old persons’ basic rights, needs and preferences.

The UN has stated that this year’s theme underscores the link between tapping the talents and contributions of older persons and achieving the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, which is currently undergoing its third review and appraisal process.

The message for this year from the United Nations is here 

The World Health Organisation also has a message on their Ageing and Life Course pages. Given that their focus this year is on Universal health coverage it’s a good day to watch this!