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.
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
I am not expecting this to surprise many of you by saying that the leading cause of trauma to older people is falls from a standing height, most of which happen at home. However what will surprise you is that a ten-year study by the Trauma Audit and Research Network revealed that this is the leading cause of major trauma across the country ahead of road traffic accidents, work-based accidents and assaults.
So what’s that got to do with unintentional ageism? Janet Morrison, who has written this week’s blog post for campaigning and support group Independent Age explains very nicely how Trauma Centre’s (A&E’s) are set up to deal with younger people with high impact injuries but that is no longer the bulk of their work. The report itself is very revealing particularly in relation to what happens next after an older person’s trauma is recognised. To read or listen to Janet’s blog click here
If you are dealing with falls, particularly falls at home, regularly you may find this page useful
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!
This week we are going to have look at a new initiative being promoted by NHS England, which has come from Dr. Amit Arora, a consultant geriatrician at the University Hospital of North Midlands, who has served as Chairman of England Council of the British Geriatrics Society. He and his team have developed the campaign “Sit up, Get Dressed, Keep Moving” which is being adopted in many NHS hospitals and abroad. It’s worth clicking on the link at the bottom of Dr. Arora’s blog for NHS England are some great resources including information leaflets that you can use.
We should all really be supporting this campaign since older people, the core users of NHS stand to benefit most from this campaign. During hospitalization older people can spend up to 83% of their time sitting in bed and often a further 12% in a chair. Patients, therefore, become deconditioned with deconditioning starting within the first 24 hours.
There is a bit of controversy about the campaign already but the BGS allowed Dr. Arora to respond on their blog and that also makes a very interesting read, See Why is everyone talking about it?