#CarersRightsDay: We Need to Support an Increase in Carers Allowance Across the UK

Carers Rights day

Today is  

There are 759,000 adults carers in Scotland – 17% of the adult population and an estimated 29,000 young carers in Scotland – 4% of the under 16 population and without them the health and social care system would collapse.  So I am asking you to support Carers UK’s  campaign to increase Carer’s Allowance by at least £8.50, to match the changes being made in Scotland. Carer’s Allowance is the main benefit for carers and you can still get it even if you are working, so long as your earnings are no more than a weekly amount known as ‘the earnings limit’. The government has announced that the earnings limit will be going up to £123 per week from April 2019. While this should be good news for carers in low paid work, many of those on the National Living Wage (NLW) will not benefit. for more details see the post here at the CONTACT website

If you are looking after someone you might want to look at and download this handy guide for anyone caring for family or friends – it outlines your rights as a carer and gives an overview of the practical and financial support available:

Finally, on the same theme, a report from the Social Care Elf on a recently published paper called:

Sense of coherence and mental health of caregivers: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Which is about trying to identify early warning signs of psychological distress in carers.

See also

Inappropriate Prescribing: A Reminder

In 2017 the World Health Organization launched its third global patient safety challenge with the aim of reducing severe avoidable medication-related harm by 50% over a five year period. See Medication Without Harm

Demonstrating success in achieving this may be difficult, but countries such as the UK are in a strong position to meet the spirit of this challenge because we have strong integration of our healthcare systems and electronic health records which we could probably use more effectively.

A very important approach is to identify potentially inappropriate prescribing and correct it where necessary, with the expectation that intervening will avoid serious harm. Yet, around half of older patients are exposed to potentially inappropriate prescribing each year and hospitalisation puts them at an increased risk, a new study conducted in Eire shows.

See: https://www.bmj.com/content/363/bmj.k4524

The authors of this study point out that medicines management services for inpatients in Ireland are broadly similar to those in the UK.

Their finding is worrying because inpatient admissions can provide the opportunity for specialist teams to review and optimise management of older patients’ chronic conditions, including their drugs. So, although hospital admissions have the potential to improve management of drugs, this study suggests that the possible benefit of more appropriate prescribing after discharge to primary care is not being realised.

Something somewhere seems to be going wrong. The authors suggest that improving coordination of transitional care (hospital to home and vice versa) particularly for older patients with complex care needs has the potential to reduce mortality, hospital readmissions, and the number of readmissions. Time to look again I think at the UK’s electronic drug management systems and the organisation of discharges from hospitals.

Why is it so difficult to get an electronic summary care record from A to B in order to reduce discrepancies arising from transitions between hospital and primary care?

This is not a new problem its an old one but surely one that could be tackled and eradicated now





Studying Hard Lowers Your Risk of Dementia!

I told you so…

This Blog was originally created for my students on Gerontology programmes at the University of the West Of Scotland. See https://www.uws.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/postgraduate-course-search/gerontology/

So you will understand why I had to post this! It was too good to miss 🙂


More Progress Required on Health and Social Care Integration in Scotland

For the first time in quite a while, I failed to make a post last week. Sorry… 😦

Anyway, back now in a week where the news has been totally dominated in the UK by Brexit. Anyone that knows me will know that as a person working closely with the NHS in Scotland its something I don’t want to see happen. You can see the NHS against Brexit Campaign by clicking the link HERE if you want to understand why. 

So what else has been going on that’s important to older people’s care? Well in Scotland the Audit Commission released its latest report on the progress of Health and Social Care Integration. Rather than me discussing what they say here, the Audit Commission has produced a short video of the highlights from the report that you can view here.


You can read and watch more about the findings of their report by going to this Audit-Scotland Webpage where you will also find some good infographics you can use.

As the report states, there has been some progress but the challenges remain significant.

They also find that success will depend on long-term integrated financial planning and stable and effective leadership and also states that all bodies involved need to tackle these issues as a matter of urgency in order to transform the way services are provided for Scotland’s ageing population.

One of the last statements they make in their news release is  perhaps the most telling

“A collective effort from the Scottish Government, COSLA, NHS Boards, councils and the Integration Authorities is needed for health and social integration to make a more meaningful difference to the people of Scotland.”

Stroke; More Prevention Required


Cerebrovascular disease (CVD) is a condition that develops as a result of problems with the blood vessels supplying the brain. Despite a substantial decrease in rates of death over the last decade across the UK, there were still 4,310 deaths in Scotland alone in 2015.  Every year there are more than 100,000 strokes in the UK each year.
That is around one stroke every five minutes. There are over 1.2 million stroke
survivors in the UK. (Including my Mother-in-Law, which probably explains my interest in this currently.) If you want to know more see The State of the Nation; Stroke Statistics (Feb.2018)

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted and brain cells are starved of oxygen. This usually occurs because a blood vessel becomes blocked by fatty deposits or a blood clot. Stroke is more common in older people.

The UK  has high prevalences of people exposed to the risk factors associated with CVD such as smoking, high blood pressure, poor diet, lack of exercise and alcohol consumption above recommended limits. Stroke care is also an area of substantial health and social care spending. It represents around 5% of total NHS costs and still remains the fourth largest cause of death in the UK, which is why treating and preventing stroke continues to be a national clinical priority.

So as health professionals what can we do?

There is a themed review from the NHS’s NIHR called “Roads to Recovery” This themed review looks at the configuration of stroke services, identifying stroke and acute management, recovery and rehabilitation, and life after stroke. Are we doing what the review suggests? See https://www.dc.nihr.ac.uk/themed-reviews/stroke-recovery-services-research.htm

Today (5th of November 2018) the Health Secretary for England, Matt Hancock will set out his long-term vision for the NHS and it will focus on preventing illness. CVD and Stroke are one of the most preventable illnesses but we continue to spend 10 times more money on treating disease than we do on prevention. Perhaps its time to consider spending differently and invest in more prevention and in our communities rather than continuing just providing a “national illness service”. Only better prevention will continue the improvement in care and treatment for CVD and stroke and other illnesses that we have been experiencing. What that involves though is not the culture of “victim blaming” which you may hear about today.  See the story about this announcement in the Guardian today HERE