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.
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 missed a post again last week and I’ve also missed another Friday since. This is possibly the longest break between posts in the 3 plus years I have hosted my own Blog. Unfortunately that means that I didn’t post anything at the end of Carers Week which fell between 10 – 16 June 2019 this year so to make up for that I am going to post the link to a great Blog that was posted on the 20th of June by Ideas.Ted.Com which is the Blogging site of the people who bring you TED Talks
Just as a contrast here is another TED talk but this one is about Domestic Workers- they’re the nannies, the elder-care workers and the house cleaners who do the work that makes all other work possible. Too often, they’re invisible, taken for granted or dismissed as “help,” yet they continue to do their wholehearted best for the families and homes in their charge.
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.
This week I found something I needed months possibly years ago. Unfortunately, though, it didn’t exist. So I am pleased that finally, I have found A really useful guide to “Helping Older People Use the Internet” which has been published this week by the Good Things Foundation. This foundation is a UK-based registered charity that is working towards a world where everyone benefits from digital and yes they mean older people as well!!!
They have supported over 2m people in gaining digital skills since their foundation in 2010, so I think they know what they are talking about. The guide was produced in partnership with the Centre for Ageing Better, one of my go-to organisations when I am looking for some inspiration for Blogging.
So if you are looking for the guide you can just click here The Foundation also hosts a website of free online courses, called “Learn My Way” which helps people improve their digital skills. I might have to head back there myself and if not, I know some students who might want to take a quick trip before their next module. 🙂 To visit “Learn My Way” click here.
England and the rest of the country have now waited over a year for the Government’s long-promised Social Care Green Paper for it only to disappear amidst the current Brexit blizzard.
Parts of the new Long Term Plan for the NHS in England are dependent on securing realistic funding for social care and maintaining and increasing investment in public health. Neither of these looks particularly likely at the moment. The failure to address these concerns now means that local authority funding cuts have seen social care services stripped back to the bare minimum in most areas. Things are so bad that Age UK estimated that 54,000 people – or 77 people a day have died while waiting for a care package in the 700 days since the Westminister government first said in March 2017 it would publish its social care green paper.
Age UK has also said tightening eligibility for council-funded social care meant 626,701 people – 895 a day – have had requests for social care refused since March 2017. More than a million older people had developed an unmet care need in that time, such as needing help with washing or dressing.
Meanwhile, ministers continue to dither over these long-awaited plans and have failed to produce any additional funds admitting that delays to the publication of the paper and institution of the new funding arrangements are in part because of Whitehall’s overwhelming focus on Brexit.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK, said:
“These tragic new figures demonstrate just how many older people are now suffering from the government’s failure to act decisively on social care. No one can say whether some of those who have died might have lived longer had they received care, but at the very least their final weeks and months might have been more comfortable and their families’ lives made easier had they been given more support.”
The charity said its helpline received calls daily from people struggling to get a care package in place, often putting great strain on their health and causing stress for loved ones. To read the full article form Age UK Click Here
Age UK have also started a Care in Crisis Campaign which we should all support. They suggest contacting your MP using their pre-prepared letter.
If you live in England I think you should be doing that at the very least!
It was easy to pick what I would Blog about this week because the Fair Dementia Care Commission Report was published on Tuesday (22nd. Jan 2019). The commission was established by Alzheimer Scotland to look at inequalities in access to health care and the impact of the current social care charges regime on people living with advanced dementia and their families in Scotland. Chaired by Henry McLeish, the commission brought together a small group of experts to work in partnership with Alzheimer Scotland to make a series of recommendations to the inequalities they uncovered.
Paying for care remains one of the most common issues Alzheimer Scotland is asked about principally because of the complexity and lack of transparency around the financial assessment processes used by social services across the different local authority areas. Most people, me included, don’t understand how the process works.
What they found was that although its known that advanced dementia produces complex health, nursing and social care needs people with advanced dementia did not have equality of access to the health care they need – instead advanced dementia was only considered as an Illness requiring a social care response.
As a consequence, people with advanced dementia were disproportionately subject to social care charges for what were primarily health and nursing care needs which in Scotland are generally free!
The result has been that people with advanced dementia and their families and carers have been paying an estimated £50.9m per year in social care charges for care which doesn’t provide the health or nursing care they require and perhaps if they could access that care may possibly have been delivered free of charge.
The report highlights that the complex needs associated with advanced dementia have not been fully understood or recognised as health or nursing care needs and therefore have not been delivered free.
The report calls for authorities across Scotland to accept and recognise that people with advanced dementia must have the equality of access to free health care on a par with people who are living with other progressive and terminal illnesses. Something which I fully support.
The University of Hertfordshire’s Food and Public Health Research team have recently completed a study called “Food provision in later life” which was a study about older people’s experiences of getting food in the UK.
The research aimed to show how older people from different household types acquired food, what food they bought and the people and places they acquired it from. The study was funded by the Food Standards Agency and the Economic and Social Research Council to explore the resilience of older people within the UK food system. One of their outputs was a research briefing, ‘Improving food shopping for older people’ is now available to read via this link.
It’s well worth reading before your next trip down to the supermarket, particularly if you shop with or for an older person as I do.
The video the team produced which is on the BSG’s Ageing Bites Youtube channel gives you an idea of why this is such an important topic to consider, although it is often taken for granted that older people will manage.
One of the things I like most about this study though is that the researchers have gone on to to develop a “The Food in Later Life Game” to help people learn more about malnutrition in older people and the actions they can take to help prevent/manage it.
Launched on the 3 October 2018, the game aims to help retailers, professionals, volunteers and other members of the community who work with and live alongside older people to understand how to help the older generation remain ‘food secure’. You can find out more about the game at the following website: