I am the programme leader for the MSc in Gerontology (with Dementia Care) @uwshls. You can find out more about the programme at https://www.uws.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/postgraduate-course-search/gerontology-with-dementia-care/#:~:text=The%20MSc%20in%20Gerontology%20with,their%20carers%20and%20their%20families. This blog is designed to highlight older people's issues and issues around older people's care. I will add a new post every weekend.
A good news day for care homes. Visiting to Scotland’s care homes can resume and the UK Government announced that for people who are living & working in care homes in England will receive regular COVID-19 tests from Monday 6th. July. The new testing regime will see Staff tested for the virus weekly while residents will receive a test every 28 days. These new measures will be in addition to intensive testing in any care home facing an outbreak or an increased risk of a surge in cases.
Too late you might argue, when you consider a study from the London School of Economics last month found that care home residents in the UK were more likely to die than in any of the other major European country, apart from Spain. The proportion of residents dying in UK homes was a third higher than in Ireland and Italy, about double that in France and Sweden, and 13 times higher than Germany. At least its a positive step in the right direction.
So how about another positive step in the right direction. Today, alongside 91 other organisations Carers UK have written to both the Work and Pensions Secretary and the Chancellor, calling on the government to urgently raise Carer’s Allowance as part of their #FairerForCarers campaign. Carer’s Allowance is the lowest benefit of its kind at just £67.25 a week in England and Wales. It’s slightly higher in Scotland at the equivalent of £76.10 per week so even the whole country matching this would be an improvement.
I am posting for the challenge at the last minute again. I have to say that this is one of the most difficult topics for me to write about. As a Nurse Lecturer I often think the best days are behind me and that I was probably more effective when I was working in Acute Care. My students probably think the same most of the time, even though they are too young to remember me from those earlier career days.
So I am not attempting a history/reminiscence lesson here. I am going to be quite predictable and pick my student’s graduation days. They are a once a year reminder of why I do my current job.
It’s not about me at all; the day is all about them and how they feel when they are finally awarded their Master’s Degrees. Nothing makes me happier in work than seeing how proud they are when they finish. Many have overcome many obstacles to get to the end of their programmes. These can include, family hardships including deaths within the close family, financial concerns, acting as carers to their children and often a carers to their parents as well. Many deal with personal illness and in some cases are also faced with a lack of support for all their effort within their workplaces, that I sometimes fail to understand.
They all show great perseverance to get to the end no matter what good or ill befalls them. (More about this whole topic at another time when I finally get to the end of my own Doctoral studies.) So the picture I have chosen to head the article is my favourite picture from last year’s graduation and I am not even in it.
For the sake of balance I thought I’d better show a few more successful students with my colleagues. You know who you all are (and a big sorry to the students who are not here!)
For those of you who don’t know, I am the Programme Leader for the Gerontology Programmes at the University of the West of Scotland. You can find out more about our MSc in Gerontology (with Dementia Care) programme by CLICKING HERE
You can also find out about the other work I am involved in by following @AlzScotCPP on Twitter or going to the Facebook page of the Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice. You can get to this by CLICKING HERE.
Her Royal Highness, Princess Anne, the Princess Royal; possibly my favourite Royal because she follows the Scotland Rugby Team, through all their ups and downs; has recorded a special message of thanks and support for unpaid carers to mark this year’s Carers Week. The Princess Royal, who is President of Carers Trust talks about the indispensable role of unpaid carers supporting people who cannot look after themselves because of an illness, disability or mental health problem. She also highlights how hard is for the public to see, far less recognise, just what a difference unpaid carers are making every day to improving the lives of others. You can watch her video below just click on the play arrow.
New figures released this Carers Week (8th – 14th June 2020) show an estimated 4.5 million people in the UK have become unpaid carers as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. This is on top of the 9.1 million unpaid carers who were already caring before the outbreak, bringing the total to an estimated 13.6 million.
2.7 million women (59%) and 1.8 million men (41%) have started caring for relatives who are older, disabled or living with a physical or mental illness since the outbreak began.
I might not be a fan of her political views but this video from Angela Rayner Chair & Deputy Leader of the UK Labour Party and Shadow first Secretary of State contains the message that I would like all current carers to here.
As we mark the start of #CarersWeek I want to say a huge thank you to the millions of unpaid carers across the UK. You are our unsung heroes, especially during the #coronavirus crisis. I know how tough it can be because when I was still a child myself I was caring for my mother. pic.twitter.com/m5ARzZRiez
As Angela states I also have had many experiences of being a unpaid carer a well as a paid carer like many nurses and healthcare workers. In times of family distress it is often us that our families turn to with some expectation that we will take control and help no matter what’s going on elsewhere. If you are one of these paid and unpaid carers you have my best wishes, admiration and support. Almost always it’s the paid caring role that’s the easiest.
Carers ARE amazing, but it’s because they HAVE to be! So don’t just be sympathetic and inspired by what they do take action to ensure carers are visible, valued & supported.
This year though has not been the same. No events to attend and nothing to organise. 😦
So what we have done instead is support everything online that we could. See @alzscot and @AlzScotCPP
We also decided it was time to have our own Facebook Page which you can visit HERE
Also came across this resource this week. A booklet to help people with dementia in long-term care settings #StaySafe . This free book was developed by Lynne Phair and care home manger Jim Watt who adapted it from a draft prepared in Canada by Gerontologist & Dementia specialist Gail Elliot, formerly of McMaster University, Ontario, Canada. You can find it by CLICKING HERE
There is a similar resource for staying safe at home which you can download FROM HERE
The theme for this week has been #KindnessMatters but kindness alone is not going to help if you require help from mental health services. What might matter more is having your dignity and human rights protected in your journey through care.
So I welcomed the publication by the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland’s Rights in Mind pathway which is designed to help staff in mental health services ensure that patients have their human rights respected at key points in their treatment. Their Rights in Mind booklet features an illustrated pathway of a patient’s journey through inpatient care, and provides a list of human and legal rights at each key stage in their care and treatment.
There is further resources on the site where you can download the booklet which you will find here and if you work for in Scotland and can access LearnPro, there are courses on Rights In Mind available for staff who have been given access. Worth asking particularly if you are mental health nurse working in Scotland.
Yes folks, this is what I look like! With Dr Barbara Sharp a friend and colleague.
Anyone who knows me will be aware that I have great admiration for everyone who is an informal (unpaid) carer, perhaps because I have been one several times myself. There are almost seven million informal carers in the UK – almost one in ten people. A figure that is rising. It is often forgotten that 42% of carers are men and 58% are women. There value of the contribution made by carers in the UK is £119 billion per year and without them the NHS and social care system would be overwhelmed many times over COVID-19 or no COVID-19.
So at this time it must be particularly difficult. This Blog is a set of resources for them. Recently, Carers Scotland noted that currently reduced or closed care services meant that family members in Scotland were picking up even more care for older, sick or disabled relatives with many of them feeling overwhelmed and at risk of burning out. See their report HERE . So this seems like the least I can do.
Firstly, you can go to the Carers Scotland Website, where you will find a really useful list of Sources of Help and Advice for Carers in Scotland. To find it CLICK HERE.
Secondly, the Scottish Government’s own carers page is HERE
Thirdly, If you are looking for advice on mental health, adults and the law there is a really useful guide for families and carers on THIS WEBPAGE from the Mental Welfare Commission. This page also has Frequently Asked Questions guidance for practitioners and formal carers. (Both guides were released last week).
Finally, my own contribution, the video at the top of the page, alongside the contributions of some of the team I work with @AlzScotCPP All we have done is available on the Alzheimers Scotland COVID HUB. Where there are some more videos and the accompanying leaflets for my video and the others which we hope will help. They are useful for many carers not just those looking after someone with dementia!
If you are a nurse though what has probably passed you by completely is a landmark publication by the WHO’s State of the World’s Nursing Report 2020, which should have been one of the highlights of the year. So it has now been published and its interesting although somewhat depressing to look at. This is some of what it says.
The global shortage of nurses, which was estimated to be 6.6 million in 2016, had decreased slightly to 5.9 million nurses in 2018. An estimated 5.3 million (89%)
of that shortage is concentrated in low- and lower middle-income countries, where the growth in the number of nurses is barely keeping pace with population growth, improving only marginally the nurse-to-population density levels.
Countries with lower numbers of younger nurses (ie under 35), like the UK and many other westernised economies will have to increase graduate numbers and strengthen retention packages to maintain current access levels to health services.
To address the shortage by 2030 in all countries, the total number of nurse
graduates would need to increase by 8% per year on average, alongside an improved capacity to employ and retain these graduates.
78 countries reported having advanced practice roles for nurses. There is strong evidence that advanced practice nurses can increase access to primary health care
in rural communities and address disparities in access to care for vulnerable populations in urban settings.
One nurse out of every eight practises in a country other than the one where they were born or trained.
Nursing remains a highly gendered profession with associated biases in the workplace. Approximately 90% of the nursing workforce is female, but few leadership positions in health are held by nurses or women. There is some evidence of a gender-based pay gap, as well as other forms of gender-based discrimination in the work environment.
The report suggests 10 key actions to address these international nursing problems.
Increase funding to educate and employ at least 5.9 million additional nurses worldwide
Strengthen capacity for healthcare workforce data collection, analysis and use.
Nurse mobility and migration must be effectively monitored and responsibly
and ethically managed.
Nurse education and training programmes must produce nurses
who drive progress in primary health care and universal health coverage.
Nursing leadership and governance is critical to strengthening the workforce.
Planners and regulators should optimize the contributions made by nurses to make use of their full scope of practice.
Countries must provide an enabling environment for nursing
practice to improve attraction, deployment, retention and motivation of the nursing
Countries should deliberately plan for gender-sensitive nursing workforce
Professional nursing regulation must be modernized.
A huge amount of collaboration, more than we have ever witnessed before is required to achieve key actions 1-9.
The report concludes that if the investment in nursing is made then the returns for societies and economies can be measured in terms of improved health outcomes for billions of people, creation of millions of qualified employment opportunities, particularly for women and young people, and enhanced global health security.
The case for investing in nursing education, jobs and leadership is very clear when you read this. Relevant Governments, professional organisation and all stakeholders must commit to taking action. SOON… the clock is already ticking.
I am writing this really to provide some assistance to some of the groups hidden by the current focus on the health of the population. Clearly the messages for everyone of us at this time#StayHome#StaySafe are really important but there are many people for whom that message is really challenging, for example those with Autism or a Learning Disability. What about those who are vulnerable and isolated or who have a dementia causing illness. So this is for them and those looking after them.
So the resources I want to highlight first are from the Social Care Institute for Excellence. They ahve produced a set of guides for families and professionals supporting autistic adults and adults with learning disabilities during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. There guides, released on April 17th can be accessed HERE
They have also produced a guide for supporting people who are isolated or vulnerable again release only last week that can be accessed HERE This resource contains a great list of things that you can do during lockdown so what it is suggesting applies much further than the groups it targets. Take a look and you’ll see what I mean.
Regarding people living with dementia and their carers, the Alzheimers Society updated their COVID-19 pages on the 16th of April so you can look at their latest advice by clicking THIS LINK
It is very difficult for society’s marginalised groups at this time. While I can’t cover them all I hope this helps a few people.
As for the @NurseBloggers challenge. It will have to wait until next week. The topic is retention… well that will interesting when you consider what’s happening just now. Will this encourage people to join health and social care professions or will it put them off… what happens in the next month may well shape the whole sectors future.
Next week many of the final year undergraduate nursing students at my University go out to join the health and social care workforce. The University, my colleagues at UWS and I are very proud of the 1,200 UWS students joining the frontline fight against COVID-19 next week – a huge thank you to those who have volunteered to join the workforce, to help protect us all 🌟https://www.uws.ac.uk/…/uws-students-join-nhs-frontline-co…/#WeAreTogether
However, its far from a bed roses out there, particularly in relation to the Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) that you all require. On Tuesday the BMA published a snapshot survey that 2,000 doctors had responded to. According to their survey, more than half of doctors working in high-risk environments said there were either shortages or no supply at all of adequate face masks, while 65% said they did not have access to eye protection. Alarmingly many felt pressurised to work even in high-risk area despite not having adequate PPE. The shortage appears worse among GP’s with more than half saying they bought their own and only a small number feeling adequately protected. See BMA Survey HERE
So if you are going out to look after our older people and others who may have COVID-19 what do you need to know?
With a weekend to go this would be a good time to sit down and do some reading and learning if you haven’t done this yet. If you do encounter someone with COVID-19 as some inevitably will, then make use of these COVID_19 NICE Guidance and make your clinical colleagues aware of them.
Finally, if you are concerned about your PPE or the supply of PPE, in Scotland there is a helpline which has has been set up for services registered with the Care Inspectorate regarding access to personal protective equipment (PPE).
All services who are registered with the Care Inspectorate and are providing social care support, who have confirmed/suspected cases of COVID-19, and have an urgent need for PPE after having fully explored local supply routes/discussions with NHS Board colleagues, can contact a triage centre that is being run by NHS National Services for Scotland (NHS NSS). This helpline is to be used only in cases where there is an urgent supply shortage after business as usual routes have been exhausted and a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 has been identified. The following contact details will direct providers to the NHS NSS triage centre for social care:
For a change this week I thought I’d turn my attention to the workforce currently looking after our older people.
So if you are a healthcare worker here are a few resources that you and your team can turn to and try out in the coming weeks as this unprecedented, once in a hundred years, health crisis continues.
The first thing that I would like to share is some timely advice from the Queen’s Nursing Institute, Scotland (QNIS) from Hilda Campbell, Chief Executive of COPE Scotland and QNIS Honorary Fellow has provided the following wee ideas of things that could help you look after yourself and create some ‘me time’. Even if it is just a few minutes. You can access her Blog piece here
It also includes other links within it which are worth following up. It would also be a good idea to share this resource with all the staff that you are working with.
The next resource I am going to suggest is from the Kings Fund and it looks at compassionate leadership in this time of crisis. it discusses the idea of an ABC of compassion at work, suggesting that leaders need to help provide Autonomy and Control, a sense of Belonging and a promote feelings of Competence. working in a compassionate way will aid in supporting your whole team through this stressful time. For more about this see: https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/blog/2020/03/covid-19-crisis-compassionate-leadership
On a similar theme this is a paper recently published in the BMJ by Greenberg N., Docherty M., Gnanapragasam S., Simon W. (2020) Managing mental health challenges faced by healthcare workers during covid-19 pandemic BMJ; 368 :m1211 You can access it here.
The paper looks at measures that healthcare managers need to put in place to protect the mental health of healthcare staff having to make morally challenging decisions. Its brief and well worth reading particularly about aftercare; what needs to happen once this crisis passes.
Currently NHS staff are also being granted free access to a number of mental health apps to support their health and wellbeing as they work around-the-clock to treat coronavirus patients.
The apps, which include platforms to proactively improve mental health as well as sleep improvement programmes, will be freely available until December 2020.They include Unmind, a platform that provides a range of tools to help with stress, sleep, connection and nutrition; Headspace, a mindfulness and meditation app aimed at reducing stress and building resilience; Big Health’s Sleepio, a clinically-evaluated sleep improvement programme, and Daylight, a cognitive behavioural technique to manage worry and anxiety. You can access them all via this page of the NHS Employers website https://www.nhsemployers.org/news/2020/03/free-access-to-wellbeing-apps-for-all-nhs-staff
The final resource and perhaps the most important is to be found on the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) website. They have collected together all the resources that can help and protect everyone’s’ mental health and wellbeing as they cope with the stresses brought about this pandemic and the stresses caused by of social isolation. We would urge to make use of this site and please share it with all your staff and patients