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.
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.
I am helping to stage an event on behalf of the British Society of Gerontology and NHS Lanarkshire next week where it hoped we can bring staff, students and older people together to discuss and identify some local priorities for research in the coming years. If we create a list of priorities then people within the Health Board and at the university can encourage our Master’s students, in particular, to take on projects that look at these priority areas. So a win-win situation for everyone! However, we don’t have enough older people attending and we would really like their help since their priorities are everyone’s priority!
So if you are living in the area covered by the Health Board and are over 60 please come and join us. You will be made most welcome. You only need to come along in the afternoon from about 12:00, if you want to join us for lunch until 3 pm. If you stay afterwards you can find out what a Tovertafel is? For full details of the event click this link. If you can make it let Caroline know at email@example.com or call her at 016984441.
Worth noting also this week was the report by Audit Scotland into the use of Self Directed Support. Since 2014 councils have been responsible for implementing Self-directed Support (SDS), which offers people more choices around their support and how it is managed. This is now largely provided by the new local health and social care integration authorities drawn from bothcouncils and the NHS.
The report published this week states that says while many people have benefited from SDS, integration authorities still have a lot to do to enable more people to take it up. Local Councils spend £3.4 billion a year on social care supporting more than 200,000 vulnerable adults and 18,000 children and their families. Assistance ranges from everyday tasks such as dressing and preparing meals to helping individuals live more fulfilling lives at home, at work and in their communities. The report highlights areas of good practice such as giving front line staff powers to spend small amounts that can make a big difference.
On the ground, however, not everyone is getting to choose and control their social care the way they want to and staff need more support to try new approaches. The majority of staff are positive about the principles of SDS but everyone involved faces challenges in offering flexible services, particularly recruiting and retaining social care workers. To access the full report click the link to
On Thursday 31st August 2017, the University of the West of Scotland School of Health Nursing and Midwifery is hosting a British Society of Gerontology event at the Caird Building, Hamilton Campus. The event is also being supported by NHS Lanarkshire. Called:
The Past, Present and Future: Supporting Novice Researchers
The aim of the event is to bring together students, older people, practitioners and lecturers from across Lanarkshire to look at some of the research and work carried out previously and discuss possibilities for researching key later life issues considered important locally.
We have a number of places for staff, students and older people living and working locally to attend what will be an interesting day here at the Caird Building.
First of all my heart goes out to everyone caught up in last nights tragedy in Barcelona, a city which I visited for the first time very recently. There are no words to express the shock and horror that will be felt by anyone who lost a loved one. My deepest felt sympathy to everyone affected.
The last few weeks I have concentrated too much perhaps on both dementia and Scotland so today I’ll thank Margo Stewart the Nursing Subject Librarian here at UWS for sharing this with me.
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Dissemination Centre has a page called “Discover the Latest Research” where they release a series of reports called NIHR Signals. NIHR Signals are timely summaries of the most important research that aim to cut through the noise and provide decision makers and others with research evidence they can use. You can find out more about them here and by watching the video!
Recently the Dissemination Centre launched a new series called ‘My Signals’ where patients, service users and health and social care staff can comment and add their perspectives to Signals summaries of research. It’s not obvious how you do this but if you open the Signal you want to read you will find within it a menu that consists of:
Signal Published Abstract Definitions Comments
Click on the comments link and you can both see what been said and add your own comments.
They are particularly interested in the views of patients and have created a guide to encourage them to contribute My Signals – Patients
The next editions of ‘My Signals’ will feature a Director of Public Health (in September) and three GPs (in October). Further editions will feature the views of surgeons, of nurses and of physiotherapists, so a site worth keeping an eye on.
Note also it’s a brilliant resource presenting easy to understand information, like NHS Choice’s Behind the Headlines which I have posted about before.