Tackling Domestic Abuse and Don’t Forget Kate.

This week I want to draw your attention to Charity called Safe Lives. Safe lives is a national charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse. Previously called Co-ordinated Action Against Domestic Abuse (Caada). Their experts set out to find out what works to stop domestic abuse. It claims to have a really high success rate in  what it does stating that after getting the right help, more than 60% of victims tell the charity that the abuse has. stopped

Throughout July and August, they have decided to focus upon Older People and domestic abuse they are releasing the latest research and practical resources for professionals working with older people. To give you an idea of the scale of this problem this Safe Lives Infografic has been published and is reproduced here:


For more details about what they are doing and to access more resources visit: http://www.safelives.org.uk/node/861

I also want to mention the sad news of the death of Kate Granger, who died on Saturday 23rd July 2016 from a rare sarcoma.If you have never heard of her, Kate was the person largely responsible for re-affirming the idea that every encounter with a person attending an NHS service should begin with the words “Hello my name is …”.  So every morning when you put on that “hello my name is” badge, it is Kate Granger’s efforts that you are acknowledging. To find out more about her, and the campaign she started got to http://hellomynameis.org.uk/

I personally think its a great tragedy that such a campaign was ever needed as healthcare professionals are all taught the importance of good communication. It just goes to show that what is taught can just as easily be unlearned or forgotten, if it does not become a habit.  However, as both a patient and doctor her observations and those of so many other people required a response and introductions, as she rightly points out are the first rung on the ladder to providing truly person-centred, compassionate care; something that has my full support. An interesting section of the site gives some of the evidence behind the importance of introductions to view this go to: http://hellomynameis.org.uk/evidence



Displacement and Driving

A day late with my post! Forgive me but I am on holiday and went away for the day yesterday, so no easy internet access. This week I am going to start out by looking at an International issue. This post is based on some one else’s Blog so I can’t take the credit, but their post is about a report of the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, called GRID 2016. In the report the issue of older people dealing with conflict or disaster is discussed because they are usually the last to flee from an unfolding conflict or disaster. Once displaced though, many are vulnerable to poor health and face greater obstacles to restoring livelihoods and achieving durable solutions within the new situations they find themselves in. The blog, written by Ana Mosneaga from the United Nations University and Michaella Vanore from Maastricht University share their insights on the internally displaced elderly in Georgia and Japan. Cheng Boon Ong puts this further into perspective by sharing IDMC’s experience with gathering sex and age disaggregated data.

To see their thoughts go to http://www.internal-displacement.org/blog/2016/if-you-dont-measure-you-dont-know-the-invisible-plight-of-elderly-idps/

If you want to see the GRID report watch the video below and/or go to: http://www.internal-displacement.org/globalreport2016/

Now a totally different topic.  A report from the Road Safety Foundation was recently published about supporting safe driving within the UK. Driving in the UK is a huge issue for our older people. Older people are more reliant on cars than ever before to meet their day-to-day needs. Giving-up driving is associated with much angst and can result in mental and physical health problems. However, such problems can be reduced if older drivers plan to give-up driving before they need to and gradually reduce their driving. Those that suffer worst tend to be drivers who are told to give-up driving and do so without any preparation (Musselwhite, 2011). This new report takes a pragmatic look at the issues making a number of important recommendations that we should learn from and or adopt. To read more about this report go to: https://ageukblog.org.uk/2016/07/22/supporting-safe-driving-into-older-age/

Time for Exercise and Boosting Your Vitamin D

trainers on a beach

Yesterday Age UK published a summary of a report by the Global Council on Brain Health that has concluded that:

  • Physical activity has a positive impact on brain health
  • People who participate in purposeful exercise show beneficial changes in brain structure and function
  • People who lead a physically active lifestyle have a lower risk of cognitive decline

They stopped short however of stating that physical activity can reduce the risk of brain diseases that cause dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, concluding that  so far there is not yet sufficient evidence. If you want to learn more about this report see:


The other report that has come out this week that has received a lot of publicity, was in relation to the  Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), suggestion that everyone over the age of one needs to consume 10 micrograms of vitamin D each day in order to protect bone and muscle health. The BBC report is quite sensible about this and contains the link allowing you to access the full report for yourself. You can find it at:


Its also worth highlighting the NICE advice on this who have previously said that the following groups are at particular risk of Vitamin D deficiency:

  • Children and babies
  • Pregnant women
  • People with darker skin, including many people from African, Caribbean and Asian backgrounds
  • Over-65s
  • People who don’t get much exposure to the sun, such as those who cover up their skin for most of the year
  • People who are housebound.

In other words, substantial numbers of older people, if not them all! For the NICE advice go to their guideline PH56 at: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ph56 and note that it is due to be updated in November this year.

Walking a Tightrope: Carers and People with Learning Disability

Well, back to older people’s issues this week, but first a comment. Dear new PM Mrs. May, Why has the Health portfolio remained in the hands of Jeremy Hunt? He is deeply unpopular and has supported policies that threaten the future status of the NHS. If everyone else is getting a new cabinet minister why not Health? Do you really think he is doing a good job? See: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/jeremy-hunt-now-longest-serving-792561


So what’s new? Today a new report was released from Age UK and Carers UK which calls on the Government to make all jobs flexible by default, as a new report reveals the significant impact caring has on employment prospects. The new report called “Walking the Tightrope” states that caring for as little as five hours a week, can have a significant impact on employment prospects, while those caring for more than 10 hours a week are at a marked risk of leaving the labour market altogether.

Age UK’s Charity Director, Caroline Abrahams, on publishing the report said:

‘People are living longer with multiple health issues and this is creating a demand for care and support that the state is failing to meet. The result is increased expectations on families and friends to step in to help. The army of unpaid carers in this country do an outstanding job but, we are simply asking them to sacrifice too much. Many feel forced to give up their own paid work …But when they do stop working the financial loss they incur is huge and often has consequences for the rest of their lives. It is morally wrong that people who do the right thing by becoming a carer should so seriously undermine their own financial security as a result.

I can only agree. To see the full report go to: http://www.ageuk.org.uk/latest-news/caring-in-later-life-harms-job-prospects/

On a totally different tack, a new paper published in Learning Disability Practice this month looked at the barriers experienced by people with learning difficulties accessing healthcare in the UK.

Many people will be aware of the fact that people with learning disabilities can age at dramatically different rates depending on their individual disability and circumstances, meaning that chronological age cannot be taken as a reliable indicator of the age-related needs of anyone with a learning disability. See: http://www.learningdisabilities.org.uk/help-information/learning-disability-a-z/a/ageing/ , if you want to learn a bit more about this. So the findings of this paper will impact on may “older” people with a learning disability.

The paper looks at solutions to some of the barriers, so to see what they suggest visit:


Worsening Nursing Shortage and Skill Mix

09/09/10 – 10090905 – UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST OF SCOTLAND HAMILTON Nursing students in different scenarios

I have commented on this before in this Blog but finally it seems to have caught the attention of the mainstream press. The BBC reported yesterday that there is a shortage of nurses in the UK which will continue for years to come and could get worse.


The warnings follow after a report from early 2016 on the nursing workforce compiled by the Institute for Employment Studies for the Migration Advisory Committee was published. It might have been published sooner but apparently it was held back because of a certain referendum. I wonder why?   In it the authors cite the ageing workforce, poor planning by government and the risks from Brexit as key problems. To see what the Institute for Employment Studies says (rather than anyone else); and to get a copy of the report go to:


Another study that came out this month that is also worth looking at was published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing. In this study, conducted in Qatar, because the hospitals keep excellent electronic records, a sample was taken from 5,000 nurses and over 7,000 patients from seven hospitals. Most of the nurses were foreigners (largely from the Philippines). with around half the nurses holding a degree qualification. Patients admitted to any ward in the hospitals for at least one day, for any reason, were included in the study and, just so you are aware, around 200 patients died during the study period. Having analysed the data, the authors found that the more a patient was cared for by a nurse with a degree, the more likely they were to leave hospital alive. If you want to know more you can access the study at


It’s not the only recent study to show this you might also want to see:


So why am I bringing this to your attention at this time? It is not possible, due to cost and availability constraints, for every hospital to have a full complement of degree-educated nurses, so within these studies there are attempts at estimating the optimum level. It turns out that if 70% of the care a patient receives is provided by nurses with degrees then that is as good as it may get. Now take a look around our wards and our care homes? How many degree nurses can you see? Is it 70% of the workforce…? The only conclusion you can reach is that we are desperately short of nurses.

Maybe next week I’ll get back to discussing just older people’s issues but clearly a nursing shortage will greatly impact on their care.



Integration and Why You Should Love Nurses!

Well back to the topic of the integration of health and social care again this week because the Kings Fund released yet another useful resource that you ought to look at. On the 30th. of June they published a report that looks at the evidence emerging about new roles and ways of spanning organisational workforce boundaries to deliver integrated health and social care. It particularly focuses on those roles which facilitate co-ordination and management of care, development of existing roles that may increase the skill-mix and enable the provision of more holistic care. To find out more and download the report go to



I love nurses

Another gem I have discovered this week is from the WHO no less. They have recently published a new WHO Global Strategic Directions for Strengthening Nursing and Midwifery 2016–2020 as their principal global guiding document for the development of nursing and midwifery throughout the Member States. It makes for interesting reading particularly at a time when we may be facing a shortage of people coming into the profession. To get a hold of this report go to:  http://www.who.int/hrh/nursing_midwifery/global-strategy-midwifery-2016-2020/en/

You might also like this article, But unfortunately I can’t find the WHO document that this journalist is reporting on. (If you can find it please let me know where it is and I’ll post the link).


Carrying on with the why I love nurses theme… you might also like the following resource. A set of images that have been produced for an RCN Competition called “Care on Camera” which attempts to capture the diversity of work nurses currently do in the UK. See:



A Black Day for the NHS

Hospital bed

It’s not often that I feel the need to express a political view here, but today the UK has voted to leave the EU. I would like as a result to express my solidarity with those people who have emigrated from EU member states to the UK and thank them for their contribution to the betterment of our society and hope that they will stay particularly as their contribution is vital to our NHS. In a letter sent to the Times on the 14th. of June the former presidents and chairs of the UK’s Royal Colleges and members of the British Medical Association set out why, if we care about the future of the NHS, we need to remain in the EU. I can only add my voice to this.

“Rather than ruining the NHS, as some have claimed, immigrants play a large part in running it. Without the 10 per cent of doctors and 5 per cent of nurses who come from other EU countries, not to mention even larger numbers of care workers, the NHS would face severe staff shortages.

Moreover, far from being strangled by bureaucratic regulations, we have benefited from Europe-wide action on matters such as new infectious diseases (including the zika virus), environmental pollution, climate change, and antibiotic resistance — all of which are public health threats that do not stop at the Channel.

We benefit from rapid access to new medicines because of the European Medicines Agency, based in this country. In addition, about 20 per cent of our medical research is now funded by the EU; we receive considerably more back from the EU for this than we pay in. If we leave we can expect to lose a good proportion of this to other EU countries.

Finally, rather than the discredited £350 million a week that Leave campaigners say would be redirected to the NHS, it seems far more likely that there would be an immediate large decline in national income, which can only worsen the existing financial crisis that faces the NHS.” 

Unfortunately these fears may now be realised.

So what else this week….. I guess the most important message this week came from both the RCN and the BMA who both had major conferences this week and both pointed out that the reduction in Hospital beds across the country is now gone to far resulting in a risk of harm to more patients as a consequence. For more on this story see:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-36579900

To see why we should be worried and find out the real figures got to http://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Hospital-Care/Beds/