Digging is Good, Hunger is Bad!

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Congratulations firstly to Sarah Noone @SarahNPhD who had her first article about her PhD work published in the Journal Ageing and Mental Health. Called Digging for Dementia it about the experience of community gardening from the perspectives of people living with dementia. You can see her work by Clicking Here

So after the positives, unfortunately a negative as I’ll add my support to the BGS Call for urgent action on hunger and malnutrition amongst older people. See their Blog Post here.  The UK governments All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Hunger’s Report published this week highlights that malnutrition is most likely to arise among older people following an accumulation of setbacks which leave them unable to access food easily. Like winter detahsits hard to understand how we got to a situation where we put the most vulnerable people in our community at such high risk.

Finally, a warning for all my students the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) are currently consulting on updating their guidance for Dementia.The new guidnace will be called  “Dementia – assessment, management and support for people living with dementia and their carers” and is due to be published in June 2018. You can come back and look here nearer the publication time as no doubt It will feature since its so important to what I teach people about.

If you or your organisation want to contribute to the consultation it is at Dementia Consultation

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Is an Effective Dementia Drug Treatment Getting Further Away?

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Sad to hear this week that Pfizer, the worlds largest research-based pharmaceutical company, so they say, are halting the development of any new drugs designed to tackle Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, with the loss of 300 jobs from their centres in Cambridge, UK; Andover, Mass., and Groton, Conn. Despite heavily funding research efforts into potential treatments in the past, Pfizer has faced high-profile disappointment in recent years from a number of different drug trials. This is a huge blow in the search for an effective drug to halt or slow both diseases just as some huge leaps are being made in other areas of diagnosis and treatment.

Any successful drug in this area would be seen by many in the pharmaceutical industry and others as having a multi-billion pound (dollar) sales potential and ongoing trials are a crucial beacon of hope for many people living with dementia and their families, so recovering from this may take a long while. Maybe we should not be leaving these decisions to private companies, perhaps its time to look at a different model for funding drug research that would make medicines more accessible to all. The World Economic Forum looked at this back in 2015 and this article, Can Megafunds Boost Drug Research?, certainly makes interesting reading now as we struggle to find new antibiotics, as well as new neurological enhancing drugs to tackle one of the World’s most costly disease processes. I’d be interested to hear what other people think.

Totally different topic and this is via the BGS Blog. This week they have published a collection of 8 articles from the last 10 years that demonstrate the way in which the application of qualitative research methods within the social science disciplines of sociology, anthropology and social psychology can enrich understanding of ageing and illness. Does sound like the greatest set of reading ever, but I am sure that if you look there will be something to love on the list!

See https://britishgeriatricssociety.wordpress.com/2018/01/18/qualitative-research-in-age-and-ageing/

Unfavourable Views of Hospital Care in England are Strongly Linked to Nurse Numbers. Is That a Surprise?

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Now at a time when the Government and all of the national media looks hell-bent on convincing everyone here in the UK that the NHS is broken, rather than being underfunded and under-resourced in terms of staff and beds; there has been very little space given to the published results of the 2010 NHS Survey of Inpatients and a BMJ paper published this month which shows that Patients’ unfavourable views of hospital care in England are strongly linked to insufficient numbers of nurses on duty, rather than uncaring staff, indicates observational research. The paper was published in the online journal BMJ Open so it’s not exactly hidden from journalists politicians etc.

Perhaps pointing out that the number of vacancies in the NHS has soared by 15.8% over the last year, prompting warnings that the service is facing “desperate” problems of understaffing is not what politicians want you to hear. Particularly concerning were the figures for England released in July 2017 by NHS Digital that showed that the number of full-time equivalent posts available rose from 26,424 in March 2016 to 30,613 in March 2017 – the highest number on record.

What this has done is fuel a public view that the NHS is worse than it used to be and that staff are less caring etc. The reality is really very different as anyone working for it knows. Can we please celebrate the success of the NHS at 70 (which happens on the 5th. of July 2018) and stop trying to undermine it. Yes the NHS does need to be reformed, but it would help to see it properly staffed first.

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This week I was involved in publishing a Blog for “Ageing Issues” The blogging space for members of the British Society of Gerontology (BSG) where they discuss contemporary issues raised by ageing societies. The blog was about the BSG small event we held here @uwshealth in Hamilton in August. To read more about it see:

https://ageingissues.wordpress.com/2018/01/09/past-present-and-future-supporting-novice-researchers/

Another great find this week. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation this month launched a new Data Information Source that collects together the latest UK poverty data, statistics and analysis from the JRF’s Analysis Unit. This page is a great tool for finding information about poverty rates and related issues in the United Kingdom and you can access it from here:

UK Poverty Data

 

Countering ‘Age Apartheid’ to Unite a Divided Society

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A strange piece of augury last week picking a ‘Care home for 4 year-olds’ as my topic. Today a report by the group United for all Ages warns that there is a widening gap between older and younger generations, largely fuelled by the UK housing crisis, which has forced young people to live in cheaper urban areas, while their parents and grandparents live in the suburbs or the countryside. They say that urgent action is needed to create 500 shared sites across the country by 2022 to try and end ‘age apartheid’ in Britain.

Britain is one of the most age-segregated countries in the world, particularly for the oldest and youngest generations and age segregation has been growing in recent decades

Their report called Mixing Matters was published today (5 January 2018). Worth downloading and reading (even the News Release) to get an idea just how divided a society we are becoming.

Shared sites, such as care-home nurseries (as featured on Channel 4); opening up sheltered housing schemes to students in return for volunteering and support; expanding the Homeshare scheme where older people let spare rooms to young people in return for practical support and companionship; Locating reception and year one classes for primary school children in care homes, as demonstrated by shared sites in the USA; and tackling the stigma around ageism and dementia by encouraging school pupils to visit care homes as part of the national curriculum bring young and old together and are practical methods for tackling some of the big social ills facing our country – from poor health and care and loneliness to ageism and division.

What’s not to like about this!