I am the programme leader for the MSc in Gerontology and MSc in Gerontology (with Dementia Care) @uwshealth. You can find out more about the programmes at: https://www.uws.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/postgraduate-course-search/gerontology/ and https://www.uws.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/postgraduate-course-search/gerontology-with-dementia-care/ This blog is designed to highlight older people's issues and issues around older people's care. I will add a new post every Friday.
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.
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 Nursing, 28(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
I’ll make my apologies now I am “borrowing” a lot of this from the latest edition of Nursing Older People but its a subject close to my heart, the lack of recognition given to nurses working in the social care sector (and that includes care homes). Its estimated that around 42,000 UK nurses work in social care for voluntary, private and state sectors employers. Unfortunately the turnover rate in this sector is excessive (around 30%) and about 5,000 post lie vacant, which is not a happy position to be in.
Last week Skills for Health (England), published a new document called “Registered Nurses: Recognising the Responsibilities and Contribution of Registered Nurses Within Social Care”. The document sets out to provide a description of the complex role nurses undertake and demonstrates the way that they not only use all of their nursing knowledge, but also contribute to important national health and social care agendas.
It was developed in consultation with registered nurses and the people they support, plus other professionals who work in and with the adult social care sector, and colleagues who work with the nursing regulatory framework.
You can download the document and accompanying infographic HERE
The Myth busting video is here and well worth a watch
Did you know that the NHS (in England) has been developing an NHS Apps Library.
Created in 2017; NHS Digital has worked with more than 350 developers to provide a library of digital health tools which are accessible to everyone. The Apps can be trusted because they are assessed rigorously before making the platform. This assessment also means that they are easy to use.
Since 2017, the library has been growing and covers many health and care needs including
support to prevent and manage diabetes including diet, exercise and lifestyle change
mental health apps offering advice and support on managing thoughts, feelings and behaviour and coping with panic attacks
apps to support personal well-being and a healthy lifestyle
tools to help manage the symptoms of chronic conditions such as asthma and high blood pressure
support to cope with the impact of breast cancer
Last year the Apps Library had already proved to be a great success. There was over a quarter of a million visits from launch to summer 2018 and more than half of those were from mobile phones, which shows how patient access to health care is transforming.
Digital Health continue to work with developers to offer apps which are relevant, helpful and empower patients to manage their own condition, which has been proven to lead to better outcomes.
Having the NHS Apps Library also helps the public navigate the confusing array of health apps, advising them which apps have met NHS standards. Now they have added an NHS App which provides a simple and secure way for people to access a range of NHS services on their smartphone or tablet.
Come on NHS Scotland its time to catch up! I could only find these so far.
A paper published last year was brought to my attention by our friend the Mental Elf, part of the National Elf Service an Oxford University spin-out company founded by information scientists Douglas Badenoch and André Tomlin, who have been building evidence-based healthcare websites since the early 1990s. Douglas and André share a vision for making evidence-based research more accessible and usable for busy health and social care professionals
In a recent Blog published on the 26th of June their team looked at the findings of the following paper
Fetherston, A. A., Rowley, G., & Allan, C. L. (2018). Challenges in end-of-life dementia care. Evidence-based mental health, 21(3), 107-111.
What the paper found was that people with dementia and their families should be supported to discuss end of life care preferences whilst the people with dementia still have the ability to do so. However, research is needed to address when these discussions should best take place and who should initiate these conversations. They have highlighted that current policy and practice has focused on living well with dementia, but this cannot be at the expense of failing to support people dying well with dementia. Both the Blog and the paper are worth a closer look.
Continuing on the theme of Dementia Care something completely different. Following a very successful event held at the University of the West of Scotland where I work on the use of animal assisted therapies in dementia care my colleagues published their own blog about the event on the British Society of Gerontology’s Blog which is called Ageing Issues. You can read their Blog “Dementia & Multi-Species Caring: Current Practice & Future Possibilities” at
I’ve missed a week again 😦 Had to spend some time dealing with a death in my family so my weekly postings seemed a lot less important than usual. However, back to Blogging and at a very good time if you have an interest in the arts.
May 1st saw the launch in Scotland of the Luminate Festival a month long festival of events celebrating what growing older means to each of us.
Luminate has a wide diversity of events held in a wide variety of venues from care homes to music halls from Ullapool to Kirkudbright. Highlights include “In the Ink Dark” a dance and poem inspired by conversations with people in Glasgow and Dundee and “Come and Sing” a massed Singing event in Aberdeen where the nationwide “Dementia Inclusive Choirs Network” will be launched. Dementia choirs are quite prominent in the news this week after the BBC Programme “Our Dementia Choir” documentary was shown on BBC One last night (Thursday 2nd of May). Available now on the BBC iPlayer HERE (Hankies required).
Not only does Luminate run over the month the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival also starts today.. This includes over 300 events across Scotland including film screenings, theatre productions, exhibitions talks and even walks. The events run from May 3rd through to May 26th. For more details about the events CLICK HERE
So my message for this month get out and take part in something from both events taking place near you. Be inspired or have your thoughts provoked by some of the fabulous showcase events and exhibitions hosted during this month.
In the three years or more that this Blog has existed, this topic is one that I have kept returning to. Finally we seem to have reached a point where what is going on is obvious to everyone.
According to The Nuffield Trust, The King’s Fund and the Health Foundation the UK is facing massive staff shortages across the National Health Service that are so severe that services will suffer, with no chance of the shortfall in GP’s ever being fully addressed. The report predicts that without the kind of actions the new report called Closing the Gapproposes, nurse shortages will double to 70,000 and the GP shortage in England would triple to 7,000 in just 5 years (by 2023/24).
For nursing alone the report concludes that even with grants and expansion of postgraduate training, bringing 5,000 more students onto nursing courses each year and actions to stop nurses leaving the NHS, the gap cannot be entirely filled domestically and that in order to keep services functioning, 5,000 nurses a year must therefore also be ethically recruited from abroad. Essentially rubbishing the salary restrictions to recruitment proposed in the Immigration White Paper.
In fact they suggest that the government needs to fund the visa costs incurred by NHS Trust recruitment. Also, as I have said on numerous occassions before in this blog a comprehensive overhaul of social care funding is needed immediately to stop the poor pay and condition that both drives staff away and makes new recruitment near impossible.