All Healthcare Professionals Should Learn from the Gosport Inquiry Says British Geriatrics Society

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I chose not to Blog about this last week. However, that’s not an indication that I don’t think its important. Quite the reverse really, however, the events are so tragic its hard to know what to say other than I hope justice prevails.

For more about the story see: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/gosport-war-memorial-hospital-deaths-scandal-jane-barton-shipman-a8406456.html

below is the response of the British Geriatrics Society.

The British Geriatrics Society is calling all healthcare professionals to review the Gosport Independent Panel Report, and to learn from these shocking events which led to the deaths of over 450 patients who were given opiate painkillers “without medical justification” from 1989 to 2000 at Gosport War Memorial Hospital in Hampshire. The Inquiry found there was […]

via The British Geriatrics Society calls for all healthcare professionals to learn from the Gosport Inquiry to help prevent future tragedies — British Geriatrics Society

More sad stories to follow I suspect and I have no doubt I’ll be blogging some more about this in future!

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What’s on During Scotland’s Dementia Awareness Week

Starting tomorrow, 4th June 2018, it is Scottish Dementia Awareness Week 2018. Alzheimer Scotland has online information about Dementia Awareness Week 2018. In their blog Let’s Talk About Dementia you will find out about what the Society is doing online during this week. The Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice (ASCPP), which is based […]

via Scottish Dementia Awareness Week 2018 — When The Fog Lifts

Supporting People in Later Life to Get Online is Now Essential

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Good news this week that more than twice as many people over 75 use the internet as they did in 2011. But despite this rapid increase, millions of people in later life are not online. The UK Office of National Statistics released figures this week that showed 4.8 million people over the age of 55 are not online – making up 91% of all ‘non-users’. As a result, they are at risk of missing out on essential services as these continue to move online, and companies increasingly offer online-only deals.

The problem, of course, is that those not online are people with the lowest levels of wealth, health and education. In other words the very people most likely to benefit from crossing the digital divide and getting online.

A report by the Centre for Better Ageing and the digital charity the Good Things Foundation released this week urges the government, companies and organisations to ensure that the most vulnerable people don’t get locked out of essential services and benefits particularly since a number of people may be digitally excluded for many years to come. As the report concludes;

“It is easy to think that with the increasing digitisation of society everyone will eventually be online, and so the digital divide will simply fade away. In fact, the opposite is true. As our services and interactions become ever more digitised, the digital divide between the most and least advantaged in society will grow and may become amplified across the life course.We need to take action now to prevent this gap between the digital haves and have-nots from becoming entrenched.”

To access the full report and the Centre’s views of “The digital age: new approaches to supporting people in later life get online” Click Here

I owe my followers an apology. I have missed two weeks in a row for the very first time! Found myself subject to #DigitalExclusion in Crete.

Can Scotland Help? @WeNurses #70nursebloggers

It came to my attention this week that Professor Jane Cummings,  The Chief Nursing Officer for England has called on nursing, midwifery and care staff to help mark the 70th anniversary of the NHS by encouraging more nurses and midwives to blog in order to showcase the fantastic contribution that the profession has made to healthcare over the years. Rather than looking backwards, I thought I’d say something about what is going in Scotland that might inspire our nursing and health and social care colleagues in England. So here goes!

Realistic Medicine was initially discussed as a way forward for the NHS in Scotland by the Cheif Medical Officer Dr Cath Calderwood in 2016. It has become an NHS’ vision for introducing the concept of “realistic medicine” concept and is designed to make sure that by 2025 anyone providing healthcare in Scotland will take a realistic medicine approach. NHS Inform states

 Realistic medicine puts the person receiving health and social care at the centre of decisions made about their care. It encourages health and care workers to find out what matters most to you so that the care of your condition fits your needs and situation. Realistic medicine recognises that a one size fits all approach to health and social care is not the most effective path for the patient or the NHS.

Realistic medicine is not just about doctors. It applies to all professionals who use their skills and knowledge to help people maintain their health and prevent and treat illness. This includes nurses of course, but also pharmacists, physios, OT’s, social work and everyone else. The Chief Medical Officer’s third annual report was published last week but if you want to know more about this approach and its impact you can read this and download the 2018 summary from here

One of the features that is really useful for all nurses and healthcare professionals is the idea of encouraging people to ask 5 questions about their treatment. The 5 questions are given in the image below.

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So a challenge to our nursing colleagues elsewhere spread the word and start encouraging your patients to use the 5 questions.

The second initiative is less uniquely Scottish but it has certainly been having an impact and that’s called “What Matters to You”  This Scotland-wide campaign encourages and supports meaningful conversations between people who provide health and social care and the people, families and carers who receive their care. ‘What Matters to You?’ day started in Norway in 2014 and has been growing internationally since. This year ‘What matters to you?’ day falls on the 6th June 2018, so there is still plenty of time to get involved. Of course, asking “What matters to you?” isn’t a question for just one day its a question that we should ask everyone. As Scotland’s Chief Nursing Officer, Fiona McQueen has said,

“The one thing I think that would transform the care that we deliver to people is to listen…… really listen; not just hear what suits us. We need to listen to staff who deliver care and make changes that support them to provide real excellence; but in particular, we need to listen to people who use our services. When we focus on what truly matters to the person and have that ‘what matters to you?’ conversation, that is what will make all the difference”

For a bit of inspiration about personalising healthcare to include what matters, see Why is it important to ask what matters? and  @PersonCntrdSco and if you are on Twitter look for #wmty18

Older People, Scams and Fraud

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People lose an estimated £10bn to fraud every year. People of all ages and backgrounds are victims. However, older people are over- represented as victims of particular frauds, including pension and investment scams, postal scams, doorstep scams and telephone scams. Some older people are especially at risk, either because they are deliberately targeted or because they are vulnerable, for example if they are bereaved, lonely or living with dementia. The financial and health impacts can be devastating. Consider for example that people defrauded in their own homes are 2.5 times more likely to either die or go into residential care within a year.
OK, so I have made my point, but why has this come to my attention this week. Age UK and Action Fraud (who are the UK’s National Fraud and Cyber Crime Reporting centre), have joined forces to launch new pilot programme to combat scams targeting older Londoners. The new programme will initially be piloted in London with the aim of creating a prevention model that can be rolled out nationally. The programme aims to support older victims, and raise awareness of scams more widely to help empower older people to feel more confident at spotting and avoiding scams.
So I am not living anywhere near London. I am disappointed there is only one pilot site but happy that at least something is being done and thought, ‘I could do my bit to raise awareness particularly given the health consequences of being scammed.’ You can find out more about these from a great little Age UK booklet called “Older People Frauds and Scams” which you can download HERE, it was released in October 2017.
If you want to know more about the scams prevention and victim support pilot programme just click the blue link.
There is also a  video accompanying the new programme which you can access on this  Age UK News page
Which? on their elderly care pages also have a link to an advice guide and directory on their Scams and Older People page. There is also a nice little booklet from Citizens Advice Scotland from 2014; Called “Scammed and Dangerous: The Impact of Fraudsters” just in case you need to more about this problem and its impact up here in Scotland
Now all this information is no good just posted here so if you read this far, please share this with the people you know who will benefit. (That’s just about everyone!)

Do We Still Want Docile?

Sorry I went “missing” for a week, nothing unfortunate, just a holiday where I didn’t have the time or reliable access to the internet to sort my post out. I think its quite a while since I went a whole week without posting.

I’m back this week and many thanks to Kate Swaffer for bringing this to my attention. This month saw the release of a Human Rights Report into misuse of anti-psychotic medication in dementia care in USA

The report ‘They Want Docile’: How Nursing Homes in the United States Overmedicate People with Dementia, estimates that every week in US nursing facilities, more than 179,000 people, mostly older and living with dementia, are given anti-psychotic drugs without a diagnosis for which their use is approved. Often, nursing facilities use these drugs without obtaining or even seeking informed consent. Using anti-psychotic medications as a “chemical restraint”—for the convenience of staff or to discipline residents— violates US federal regulations (and regulations in most EU countries including the UK) and may amount to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment under international human rights law.

Yet another reminder of the dangers of these drugs, a problem very effectively highlighted in UK healthcare on the publication of the Banerjee Report in 2009.

Things have been improving in the UK but it is still an issue worth highlighting and bringing to people’s attention. Particularly bearing in mind that the Department of Health in 2012 said antipsychotic use was still  “resulting in as many as 1,800 unnecessary deaths per year.” despite the improving awareness of the problem. Note that overprescribing of anti-psychotics is not confined to nursing homes. In fact many nursing homes have arrangements in place to minimise all over-prescribing that many healthcare professionals could learn from. See the HALT project in Sydney and this deprescribing anti-psychotics algorithm from Ontario if you want some inspiration for reducing anti-psychotic prescribing for the people living with dementia that you care for.

So I’ll leave you with a final thought,

How could we possibly think that it is a good idea to treat stress, distress and unmet needs using sedation?”

 

Is an Effective Dementia Drug Treatment Getting Further Away?

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Sad to hear this week that Pfizer, the worlds largest research-based pharmaceutical company, so they say, are halting the development of any new drugs designed to tackle Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, with the loss of 300 jobs from their centres in Cambridge, UK; Andover, Mass., and Groton, Conn. Despite heavily funding research efforts into potential treatments in the past, Pfizer has faced high-profile disappointment in recent years from a number of different drug trials. This is a huge blow in the search for an effective drug to halt or slow both diseases just as some huge leaps are being made in other areas of diagnosis and treatment.

Any successful drug in this area would be seen by many in the pharmaceutical industry and others as having a multi-billion pound (dollar) sales potential and ongoing trials are a crucial beacon of hope for many people living with dementia and their families, so recovering from this may take a long while. Maybe we should not be leaving these decisions to private companies, perhaps its time to look at a different model for funding drug research that would make medicines more accessible to all. The World Economic Forum looked at this back in 2015 and this article, Can Megafunds Boost Drug Research?, certainly makes interesting reading now as we struggle to find new antibiotics, as well as new neurological enhancing drugs to tackle one of the World’s most costly disease processes. I’d be interested to hear what other people think.

Totally different topic and this is via the BGS Blog. This week they have published a collection of 8 articles from the last 10 years that demonstrate the way in which the application of qualitative research methods within the social science disciplines of sociology, anthropology and social psychology can enrich understanding of ageing and illness. Does sound like the greatest set of reading ever, but I am sure that if you look there will be something to love on the list!

See https://britishgeriatricssociety.wordpress.com/2018/01/18/qualitative-research-in-age-and-ageing/