I am the programme leader for the MSc in Gerontology and Later Life Studies at the University of the West of Scotland. You can find out more about the programme I run at http://www.uws.ac.uk/mscgerontologyandlaterlifestudies/ . This blog is designed to highlight older people's issues and issues around older people's care. I will make a new post every Friday but we all have eyes and we all have views, so if there is anything that you think others should know about please add to the comments and I'll share here.
Its Black Friday today so most of you will not be looking at this, you’ll be shopping! Its Black Friday though for other reasons after the budget being announced in the UK and no obvious end to austerity or scrapping the cap on pay rises that virtually all UK healthcare workers are experiencing. While that might seem like more moaning the implications for older people in hospital and requiring social care are discussed very effectively in this peice published by the British Geriatric Society on their Blog. So rather than me picking out something have a look at what Dr Eileen Burns, President of the British Geriatrics Society has said.
So as a counter to all that depressive talk about underfunding and its short and long term impact maybe we need to calm down a little and listen to our seniors.
This is another peice from the TED Blog. Yes TED again! You know I am big fan of the talks TED: Ideas worth spreading So they also have a blog and this was their Thanksgiving post; “5 Pieces of Essential Life Advice from Seniors” I bow to their wisdom. This is what they said:
Think of hard times like bad weather — they too will pass.
Draw inspiration from all the people you meet.
Love your work — for the salary and for the people.
Find mentors who can guide you and challenge you.
Make the most of less.
To find out more and watch a TED talk about what we get when we listen to people’s stories CLICK HERE
Last month saw the publication of one of those papers that helps confirm something that you always believed you knew. So what did it confirm?
Very old people are more likely to die comfortably if they die in care homes or at home when compared to hospitals. The study carried out by a nursing team at the University of Cambridge found that the oldest old do not always receive effective symptomatic treatment at the end of life. While that is true in most settings up to four times more are likely to die comfortably in a community setting when compared to hospital. So what’s the message? Training for end of life care needs to be improved for all staff, at all levels but perhaps more telling is the need for governments (not just in the UK) to review the funding of long-term care so that more people have the opportunity to die in their home/ care homes than currently so that late admission to hospital is less likely. Not a new message but maybe its time to sit up and take notice. To download the paper go HERE
Sticking with the same topic an End of Life Care resource called “Let’s Talk About Death and Dying” has been produced by Age UK and the Malnutrition Task Force. The materials were produced in a response to a survey showing yet again that conversations about death remain a taboo topic. The new video is below:
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:
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)
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.
Since it’s all over the UK news this morning I think I have to mention Safe Staffing Levels and the current shortage of healthcare staff across virtually all sectors of healthcare in the UK. Today the RCN have released their Safe and Effective Staffing Report, to a flurry of publicity about this issue. (to see their Safe Staffing page, which includes the report click here )
Some 30,000 staff, including midwives and healthcare support workers, took part in this piece of online research and the RCN describes their stories as “desperately sad”. It’s quite an emotive topic surrounded by political spin (See this BBC article for example) but in the end, its primarily older people who are affected by these shortages and that’s not always clear. In a previous report back in May, the RCN stated what it thought should be done to tackle this ongoing crisis. I wish this was a new issue, I wish I could see some positive steps to improve the situation but so far there is not much progress (See my own post from March last year!) You should note also that this is not just a Nursing crisis the same is true for AHP’s and Doctors.
OK onto better news… This week the WHO launched its Integrated Care for Older People Guidelines (ICOPE, maybe the best acronym ever), asking for individual and systems level changes to be undertaken by all member countries to respond to the needs of older people with a focus on reorienting primary care providers and health systems to respond to the great diversity in physical and mental capacities of older populations and provide care that is person-centred and integrated across health care services, settings which is coordinated with social care. The UK has been struggling with this for a number of years now but progress has been made. If these guidelines are adopted by more countries the hopefully responsive integrated care won’t be an innovation it will be the way all health care is delivered.
Well done RCN Older People’s Forum and My Dementia Improvement Network for getting behind a campaign to raise awareness of identifying delirium not just in hospital but also within the community. Older people with multiple long term conditions are particularly vulnerable to delirium but are also the most likely not to have it spotted until the possibility of a poor outcome is more likely. To find out more about becoming a delirium champion and get a resource pack to help raise awareness of the need to identify delirium early visit this RCN page.
I just wished they hadn’t used the label “champion”. Particularly as someone involved in training Scotland’s National Dementia Champions; who are already encouraged to raise awareness of this issue.
Amongst all the worldwide weather chaos that we are currently experiencing I think I should also highlight the biggest one and the one that has the most impact on older people and that is the East Asia Floods. Although its probably the least reported it already has the most deaths reportedly caused by it and has affected by far the most people. The burden in such chaos often falls on older people. To learn more and maybe to contribute to the relief fund please visit Age International South Asia Floods
It’s the 1st of September, so as always this is the commencement of World Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.
World Alzheimer’s Month has been observed in September every year since its launch in September 2012. The decision to introduce a full month, to contain the existing World Alzheimer’s Day, which is on the 21st. of September every year was made to enable national and local Alzheimer associations worldwide to extend the reach of their awareness programmes over a longer period. The 21st of September was chosen because it marked the opening of Alzheimer’s Disease International’s (ADI’s) annual conference in Edinburgh on 21 September 1994 which was the organisations 10th anniversary.
For more information about this years theme and campaign click here.
It also means that the next World Alzheimers Report will be released. This year the aim is to highlight the importance of early detection and diagnosis of dementia. So look out for it’s publication around the time of World Alzheimer’s Day.