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 the team I work with were involved in the publication of of a new report looking at the preparedness of Scotland’s housing to deal with the increasing numbers of people living with dementia. Called “Being Home: An overview of the current housing situation for people affected by dementia in Scotland” it Is the first report of its type done in the UK that I am aware of. Very timely to as the UK begins to examine the emerging crisis it faces with regard to social housing in the wake of the tragic events at Grenfell Tower Block in London.
To download the report go to this link.
I also attended a public lecture this week which looked at comparing work done on likelihood of dying within a year after hospital admission in Scotland with work done in both Denmark and New Zealand. Sounds depressing I know but it gives you wonderful insight into just how frail our hospital population truly is.
What was really good about this wasn’t just the insight about international frailty it was finding about about the work of Merryn Gott and her team in NZ. Very inspiring, so I am going to suggest taking a look at her research team’s Blog which you can find at put the link here.
At the end of April 2017, I posted some information about a campaign aimed at trying to limit the extent of deconditioning syndrome by encouraging older people in hospital to get up and get dressed in their day clothes sooner in order to encourage more walking and safer walking early in rehabilitation called #EndPJparalysis . In support of this campaign, this month Nursing Older People’s Research Focus page suggests some articles that you might want to read on this topic that support the campaign. Two of them are quite old but one is a recent French study has a strong message for all staff dealing with older people in Hospital. The article is
Sourdet, S., Lafont, C., Rolland, Y., Nourhashemi, F., Andrieu, S. and Vellas, B. (2015). Preventable iatrogenic disability in elderly patients during hospitalisation. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, 16(8), pp.674-681.
Which you can access via Science Direct. You can take a look at the abstract here
Two other things of note this month. This week is Carers week and an interesting YouGov poll was conducted on behalf of eight major charities who are calling on the new UK Government and society to do more to recognise the important contribution that unpaid carers make. You can view and download the report called “Building a carer
friendly society” at the Carers Week website
Finally, yesterday was World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and the WHO have estimated that as many as 1 in 6 older people are affected by abuse. They have created a page in support of this day that includes a link to a report published in Lancet Global Health which you can download and read on elder abuse prevalence at WHO Elder Abuse Awareness
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.
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
As part of 2016’s Luminate, Scotland’s creative ageing festival, and with support from Scottish Care, Documentary Filmmaker and Photographer Duncan Cowles worked at North Merchiston Care Home in Edinburgh to create a collection of short films directed by the care home residents. The result is a series of five short films. I think each one of the residents has really enjoyed the process. Some were slightly reluctant initially, but once we got started admitted that they were having a laugh, and were glad they’d agreed to take part.
Duncan Cowles said of the project
“I think each one of the residents has really enjoyed the process. Some were slightly reluctant initially, but once we got started admitted that they were having a laugh, and were glad they’d agreed to take part. The hope is that the films will take on a life of their own, as we share them with a wider audience. It’s really important that older people’s voices are heard by other generations, and often that doesn’t happen.”
On a totally different scale, a report by Help the Aged International called “Investing in an ageing world: shifting debates from costs to investments” has recently been added to their publications list. The report argues that we should stop bemoaning the so-called “costs” of ageing and shift from a debate defined by financing and expenditure to one that focuses on social investment and long-term planning. An approach that is both more positive and ultimately more sustainable approach. It’s a long report but you can download it here and take a look at the conclusions and recommendations on p.100-105 which discuss what we should be doing instead of just imposing austerity measures. As the report says, the younger workers of today and the near future will be the beneficiaries of the successes of our current planning but only if we act appropriately now!
For many years now scientists and drug companies have been looking for drugs that don’t just ameliorate the symptoms of the disease as our current drugs do but ones that can stop the death of neurons, in the presence of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease.
There have been times when this has been claimed but there has never been any drug that has got through human trials successfully. This week though, this claim has been made for two drugs: trazodone hydrochloride (used to treat depression and anxiety) and dibenzoylmethane (a drug that could be useful for prostate and bowel cancer). Both drugs restored memory, reduced signs of neurodegeneration and were safe for mice in the doses being trialled.
Now the beauty of utilising these drugs is that they have already been tested on humans so if they are as effective, as animal testing seems to suggest, then the process of human testing can be hugely reduced, meaning that clinical trials for both drugs in treating neurodegenerative diseases could start straight away.
Could we be approaching an era where there is a treatment that has a real impact on neurodegenerative illness for the first time? Why not go and make up your own mind about this. On BBC Health there is an item which explains what it is believed the drugs do and some further thoughts on what might happen next. Click here to view
Both links take you to the paper which has caused this stir. Let’s hope the outcomes of any trial are positive because its now 20 years since the acetylcholinesterase inhibitor Donepezil (Aricept) was launched.
Worrying times for UK nursing particularly in England and Wales where the nursing bursary has been scrapped. Figures from UCAS show a worrying drop in applicant numbers at a time when there is a huge shortage of nurses UK wide. Less than a year and clearly it’s already time for a re-think. See Mature students decide against nursing .
I am not sure how many of you will have read about this but I think it is well worth reading about, particularly if you work in an area where no resuscitation team is accessible, care homes particularly.
In January the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (NMC’s) Conduct and Competence Committee (January 2017) ; found against a nurse who did not attempt CPR on, or call the emergency services to, a nursing home resident she believed had already died.
This ruling had caused concern and considerable debate among nurses and other health care professionals who feared the risk of criticism or disciplinary action should they be faced with a similar situation.
Bearing this in mind it is worth reading both of these statements. One from the Resuscitation Council (UK) itself and the other from the RCN.
Finally, something else that may have passed you by this week. WHO announced that Depression is now the leading cause of ill-health and disability worldwide. According to the latest estimates from WHO, more than 300 million people are now living with depression, an increase of more than 18% between 2005 and 2015. WHO will start a year-long campaign targeting depression called “Depression: let’s talk” which will commence on World Health Day which is today of course! (7th. of April 2017).
Its going to be a bit overshadowed by the launching of Fifty-nine Tomahawk cruise missiles sadly.