Bad News and Goods News on Dementia

This week if you can see past the Brexit clamour two very important pieces of news about Dementia appeared. Firstly, the bad news. The fears of many people who have been trying to bring this to public attention, like the Sports Legacy Institute in the US and the Jeff Astle Foundation in the UK, that there may be a link between concussion injury in football/soccer and mortality due to dementia and other neurological illness, seems to have been realised. A team based at Glasgow University published a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine examining the link found that former professional footballers are three and a half times more likely to die of dementia than those in the general population.

It’s not possible currently to examine the paper in full easily at the moment but one of my favourite sources for this blog  Behind the Headlines an NHS critical guide to the science that makes the news, have published their review of the paper which you can read at

https://www.nhs.uk/news/neurology/dementia-fears-for-former-footballers/

If you want to look at the abstract of the published paper you can find it at

Mackay DF, Russell ER, Stewart K, et al. (2019) Neurodegenerative Disease Mortality among Former Professional Soccer Players New England Journal of Medicine. Published online 21/10/19

So, secondly what’s the good news then? Biogen an American drug company and Eisai a Japanese company they are working with said on Wednesday that they will seek US FDA approval for a medicine to treat early Alzheimer’s disease, a landmark step toward finding a treatment that can alter the course of the most common form of dementia. The announcement caught everyone by surprise because Biogen stopped two studies of their new drug earlier this year, when partial results suggested it was not likely to be successful. It now says a new analysis of more results suggests that the drug helped to reduce a decline of thinking skills at the highest dose.

The drug, called aducanumab, aims to help the body clear harmful plaques from the brain. If they are right, this is the biggest step forward in 20 or more years as finally there may be a drug that tackles the cause of the disease. Current drugs only temporarily ease symptoms of Alzheimer’s and do not slow the loss of memory and thinking skills.

For more about the announcement see

https://metro.co.uk/2019/10/23/drug-can-slow-alzheimers-disease-soon-available-millions-10966879/

Improving Well-being: Step 1-Physical Activity

Public Health England have recently published new evidence and online guidance to help healthcare professionals embed physical activity into daily life.

Called Physical Activity: Applying All Our Health  the resource aims to help health professionals prevent ill health and promote well-being as part of their everyday practice.

The information provided aims to help front-line health and care staff use their trusted relationships with patients, families and communities to promote the benefits of physical activity. It also recommends important actions that managers and staff holding strategic roles can take.

It includes examples to help healthcare professionals understand specific activities or interventions which can:

  • prevent physical inactivity
  • protect through physical activity
  • promote healthier more active lifestyles

Also in the post is a link to an eLearning version of the information provided by eLearning for Healthcare (Worth signing up to because of the number of resources you can access).

The NHS Scotland equivalent page can be found at http://www.healthscotland.scot/health-topics/physical-activity/physical-activity-overview

but its perhaps not as interesting.

It’s Allied Health Professions Day! Let’s Celebrate Their Work #AHPsDay #AHPsDayScot #ProudToBeAHP

There are fourteen different healthcare roles recognised as Allied Health Professionals (AHPs); each one of them carrying out an important role in the lives of the people that they are caring for. If you want to find out more about the 14 professions see the following page at Health Careers

So this week rather than focusing on a paper or a topic that’s in the news let’s  just highlight what the 14 professions do and how they make a difference.

As part of the day a Google site has been created and on the site is a whole lot of material of use to help people understand AHP roles and the contributions they make. The site can be found HERE 

It includes video, NHS Recruitment information, some materials from the AHP’s  professional bodies and some teaching materials.

The Nursing Midwifery and Allied Professions group at NHS Education for Scotland have also released a series of videos from their AHP staff on the programmes that they are currently involved in which you can view at https://twitter.com/NESnmahp

This week the Alzheimers Scotland Blog “Lets Talk About Dementia” are also running a serieds of Blogs on AHP contributions to Dementia care which you can access at https://letstalkaboutdementia.wordpress.com/

So lots to celebrate and be proud of if you are an AHP. AND if you are an AHP reading this Blog have a great day and keep up the good work!

Identifying and Managing Frailty in Care Homes

People in care homes are the most likely group of people in society to experience Frailty. However the Registered Nurses working in care homes are the least likely to receive any education or training specifically targeting frailty issues. They are though, a crucial component of care delivery to frail older people and are in an excellent position to support frail people who have complex care needs and comorbidities and are at risk of unplanned admissions to secondary care (because that is what they are doing every day).

Identification of frailty is important because aspects of the factors contributing to it may be reversible.

In July an article by Lynn Craig, a Senior Lecturer, Northumbria University and Clinical Development Managerwith North Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group, published an article

Craig, L., 2019. The role of the registered nurse in supporting frailty in care homes. British Journal of Nursing28(13), pp.833-837.

In the article she explores frailty and the role of the nurse in assessing for frailty particularly in relation to 4 aspects, nutrition status, polypharmacy, exercise and cognitive function; areas which she suggests nurses could target in order to better support reducing the negative health outcomes of frailty.

Usually I’d provide a link to let you see the article for yourself but this time you will need to look for it and download it yourself.

If this has sparked an interest in frailty you should probably look at

Janet’s story: Frailty. which is an NHS RightCare resource that compares a suboptimal care pathway with an ideal pathway. which you will find at https://www.england.nhs.uk/rightcare/products/ltc/