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.
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.
I am always reluctant to post bad news about UK Care Homes because the negative publicity they receive is often underserved and reflects very poorly on most of the staff I meet from this sector of healthcare that do an amazing job, with far less support and money than their NHS counterparts. However, it was difficult to ignore this week the CQC which has suggested that 1 in 3 care homes in England may not be ‘safe’ with inspectors also noting they had a particular problem recruiting and retaining nurses.
A more interesting take on this is provided by one of my favourite Blogs, written by a man caring for his wife who has Dementia called Remember Me: Seeking the Good Life. To see what he has to say on the topic go to “Dementia Care Homes – The Futility of Inspection”
The obvious question now is how does Scotland fair in comparison? You get some idea from the raw data at the Care Commission Website Are we really in the same country?
After the negatives how about a positive in the same field. This is from England’s My Home Life Blog which is full of great stories and ideas for Care Homes and the particular Blog I am selecting Award Winning Service Share Their Learning is in very sharp contrast to all the usual reports of bad care. Enjoy reading this and exploring the site further.
As my followers will know it was Dementia Awareness Week in Scotland last week so for those of you who got involved here are some things you might like:
#DAW2017 went viral with a video of PC Marshall visiting a Musical Minds group in Kilmarnock during DAW. The video on the ALZScot Ayrshire page was shared across Scottish media including The Scotsman, The Scottish Sun, The Sunday Post and many more!
Check out the Dementia Awareness Week gallery over on Facebook and tag yourself.
To support the week AlzScot also shared a blog a day from Allied Health Professionals who wanted to share who they are and how they CAN help if you are living with dementia. If you can review the blogs by visiting Let’s Talk about Dementia
Last week also saw the publication of ‘My Anticipatory Care Plan’ (ACP). An anticipatory care plan toolkit designed by Healthcare Improvement Scotland.
Antipatory Care Planning ahead can help many people with chronic health problems to plan what they would like their care to look like on a daily basis or help them to plan fro and manage situations which they may find threatening, like sudden hospital admission. ACP’s are not legally binding in any way (in the UK) and can be updated at any time to reflect changes in the person’s thinking. Remember this is designed to be their plan and it’s entirely up to the person to decide who to share this information with.
In January (I know that’s a while back and usually I am more up to date than this), the Royal College of Physicians in partnership with the National Audit of Inpatient Falls (NAIF) and others produced a new vision assessment tool which enables ward staff to quickly assess a patient’s eyesight in order to help prevent them falling or tripping while in hospital. Look out! Bedside vision check for falls prevention is an innovatively designed guide which aims to support busy clinical staff in assessing visual impairment in older people. It uses a mixture of questions and visual aids to help doctors, nurses and therapists check eyesight at the patient’s bedside. Results give an indication of the extent of any visual problems, known or unknown, that the patient may have. For more information click the link.
There is a strong link between visual impairment and dementia as their 2016 PrOVIDe study showed. Most of the visual impairments they encountered though were easily correctable. So go and have a look at what they suggest.
Note the page was designed for England and Wales so if you are Scottish and want to become a Dementia Friend you need to click on this link
Can’t say I have either, so I better explain. This is the symbol of BlueAssist. Created by a small centre for adults with learning difficulties in Ostend, Belgium. The scheme began as a series of written cards with a distinctive logo, and the words Dare to Connect. The symbol is there to help the public understand that the person asking for help may not be able to communicate easily, just as the wheelchair symbol is recognised for those with physical difficulties. The simple idea was that when the person presents a BlueAssist message which has been pre-prepared such as
“Please can you help me catch the number 5 bus”
Members of the public would understand from the symbol and the message on the card what is needed and could then provide assistance.
Not only can you get the cards you can now get a Blue Assist mobile phone app.
The whole point here is that ANYONE who has difficulty getting their message across, either because of physical problems, such as a stroke, hearing impairment, stammer or temporary problem such as a broken jaw. Or those who find it hard due to a long-term disability such as learning disability or any older person there are many people who want to remain independent but may find their memory and word finding ability makes asking for help difficult.
To find out more and maybe even to download the App, go to
The team from the Alzheimers Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice who I work with, are holding a Drop-in Event at the Mezzanine Area of the Brough Building, UWS Paisley Campus, in Scotland at 1-3pm on the 31st May, 2017.
If you can’t come along on the day please join us on twitter @ASCPP #oneweething where we are celebrating all the lovely things and small changes that our Dementia Champions and others do to improve the lives of people with dementia, their family, and friends. To find out more go to:
OK, that’s and event still to come but what about this week?
Yesterday Age Scotland launched a report and survey that outlines the positive impact that the growing men’s shed movement is having on later life. Men from sheds across Scotland have told their story in the report called The Shed Effect, which you can access using the link. The report demonstrates how men’s health and wellbeing has been lifted by getting involved in their local shed. The men’s shed movement or community sheds are not for profit organisations that originated in Australia, to advise and improve the overall health of all males. They normally operate on a local level in the community, promoting socila interaction and camaraderie with the aim of increasing quality of life. There are over 900 located across Australiaand growing numbers in the UK, Ireland, Finland Greece and New Zealand. with thousands of active members to find a local shed if you live in Scotland Click here.
Again this week I am picking two very disparate stories. One has been widely reported within the UK and one has received much less attention.
So firstly this week two separate reports for the government released this week suggest that millions of people are probably going to have to work longer to qualify for their UK state pension. While that is not a surprise, if you have been following world trends, UK demographics have attended any of my modules or follow this blog the speed at which it might happen and who might be affected probably will be. In a worst case scenario, planned changes which are not due to take effect until 2044, it could be brought in as soon as 2028, affecting those now in their late 50s. (Mind you the worst case scenario means that you will be spending 32% of your adult life in retirement so clearly you will be expecting to live longer). The implications for the poorest, especially women as usual, are worrying. For a lot more information on UK Pensions, see this BBC news report, State pension age could be raised to 70
This month the Malnutrition Task Force also launched a Campaign aimed at older people with small appetites that focuses on keeping a healthy weight in later life.
As part of their campaign, the task force has also released two guides to tackling unhealthy weightloss. One is aimed at those in later life and the other at carers. They are packed with tips and advice on how to keep to a healthy weight in later life. For instance, did you know that if you have a small appetite, eating small meals or snacks six times a day may be more manageable than three big meals?