Healthy Caring

Caring is an important part of many people’s lives particularly older people. In fact over a third of carers who are aged 65+ provide 50 or more hours of informal care each week. It’s not surprising therefore that this can take its toll on people’s health, even if it can sometimes be hard  for them to even admit they have a role as a carer. For it can be an expected and valued part of ageing together and a valuable part of a friendship. It is also not unusual for people in their 50s and 60s to be caring for their own children, their grandchildren or a disabled adult child and also their parents.

So it is good to see the publication by NHS England of a Healthy Caring Guide.  See:


Caring Guide

This is a a companion guide to the Practical Guide to Healthy Ageing  which was was originally published in January 2015 and updated recently  in October 2015. Both can be downloaded via the link above.

A milestone was also reached this month by the MRC’s Longitudinal Study, The National Survey of Health and Development. The NSHD, the oldest of the British birth cohort studies, and is unique in having data from birth on the health and social circumstances of a representative sample (N=5362) of men and women born in England, Scotland or Wales in March 1946. The participants are all now Aged 70! For an insight in what has been discovered so far visit the study website at



How to Stay Young?

Couldn’t let this week go by without mentioning the BBC programme “How to Stay Young”  in which Angela Rippon and Dr Chris van Tulleken travel the world to investigate the latest experiments and research that offers insights into how we may be able to tackle the ageing process and stay fit and healthy for longer. Whether you look at this from the perspective of your own health and lifestyle or through the eyes of your patients these are interesting programmes to watch. Needless to say I have yet again decided to exercise more and eat more healthily. Purple sweet potato anyone?

The programme has its own website at: and both programmes are available on the iPlayer.



More worryingly after such a positive set of programmes was last week’s Dispatches programme on Channel 4 which involved a joint investigation between Dispatches and the Sunday Times.The programme called “Britain’s Pensioner Care Scandal” examined the crisis in home care for older people. New research reveals hundreds of thousands of missed visits and millions of late visits along with evidence of pensioners not being washed or dressed for days, waiting hours for dinner and mistakes being made with medication. Almost 300,000 older people in this country receive home care and their findings suggest many are facing serious difficulties with the quality of the care that they receive. You can read more about the programme at:

You can watch it at

I can only describe it as very worrying here…. otherwise this would be a rant!

It’s not Friday! But this sadly isn’t a new story either.

As you know I always try and post on a Friday but last week I missed my date…. sorry if you came looking for it. My focus was drawn last week though to the  publication of the UK winter deaths figures yet again. The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has again released figures that indicate another rise in Winter Deaths. Again I find it staggering just how little attention this gets from mainstream news for what you have to say is our national embarrassment. The BBC report just about summarises the tone of a lot of what the papers said, but is it just me?

If you found any disease where the death rate rose by 5% in a single year, there would be an investigation, but dying from the effects of cold appears to be OK!

So what about an explanation; was anything wrong? One reason put forward appears to be a failure of the ‘flu vaccine, but the “elephant in the room” is pensioner poverty. The Guardian coverage is better at trying to explain what is really  going on; see

(and this was published in advance of the official figures).

A New Dawn?


Its April the 1st 2016 and today is the day that what has been heralded as the single biggest reform to the way health and social care is delivered in Scotland, since the creation of the NHS, becomes fully operational. Legislation to implement health and social care integration, passed by the Scottish Parliament in February 2014, will come in to force today bringing together NHS and local council care services under one partnership arrangement for each area.

In total 31 local partnerships have been set up across Scotland and will manage almost £8 billion of health and social care resources, including those currently associated with 96 per cent of delayed discharge and 83 per cent of unplanned admissions in the over 75s. So this is of huge significance to the future care and management of older people across Scotland. From today the partnerships are responsible for the health and care needs of patients, in particular older people, to ensure when people move between hospital and care settings their journey is better coordinated and as seamless as possible. I suppose the key question now is will we notice the difference? (Or how long until this makes a difference?)

The aims behind the whole project and what it is hoped it will achieve are detailed at

Today also sees the launch of the National Living Wage but I have a real concern about that terminology because this so called National Living Wage is anything but that. It’s the National Minimum Wage and its a bit of UK Government spin suggesting that most people could live on this pay level alone. Why do I think that, see:

Some thing else happens today that appears to be getting more attention than the Scottish reforms and that’s the great Manchester Experiment. At midnight tonight, the 10 Councils in the Greater Manchester Combined Authority take direct control of their annual health and social care budget of £6 billion. Money previously administered by central government ministers in London (so devolution essentially). To find out more about their plans see:


Eyesight and What Effect is Your Environment Having

You might have seen this reported on BBC’s Breakfast News last week, but I thought it was worth highlighting here. There is growing pressure on hospital eye services which is endangering patients’ eyesight, warned the President of The Royal College of Ophthalmologists, Professor Carrie MacEwen. She noted that there has  been ‘an increase of up to 30% in eye clinic attendances over the last five years’, explaining that ‘over 100 million outpatient appointments were made in England alone during 2013-14, of which 10% were for eye care.’ Reasons for the increased demand included the ageing population (of course), coupled with the fact that many common eye conditions which were previously untreatable, such as age related macular degeneration, can now be treated successfully. What she found particularly concerning was the fact that much of the increased demand for eye clinic appointments comes from patients with chronic eye diseases, who are the most vulnerable and at the greatest risk of irreversible loss of vision. To see her full report go to:


Also published in the last week was a report from the WHO called “Preventing Disease Through Healthy Environments”. The WHO have undertaken an analysis that indicates that 23% of global deaths (and 26% of deaths among children under five) are due to modifiable environmental factors. Young children and older people bear the brunt of the environmental risks, the report finds, with children and under-fives and adults aged 50 to 75 most impacted. So what environmental factors are we talking about and just what diseases can be linked to our environment?

To get some insight into this fascinating topic see:



Dementia in BME Groups

 This week I am going to draw your attention to a new group that has been created called Race Against Dementia. Race Against Dementia is an alliance of groups currently providing information and support to people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities in the UK. Black and minority ethnic (BME) groups and the views that they have of dementia and dementia care receive very little attention in this country so any group prepared to bring the issues of minority communities to the fore is most welcome.
To find out more about this alliance visit their website which is very new at
On the website is a link to their good practice guidance. As their campaign develops I am sure more resources will be added.
On the theme of healthcare for BME groups you may find the following interesting video called “Dementia Does Not Discriminate”
and an older video by the Runnymede Trust called Race and Dementia:

Integrated Care in the UK



Integrated care has become the become the new mantra in older people’s care and rightly so. It is enshrined within law in Scotland and most UK public healthcare services are expected to embrace it. Integrated care has been described as ‘person-centred coordinated care’. The three important features of integrated care are:

  • Services working together across the health and social care sectors.
  • People’s control over the planning of their care.
  • Achieving the results that are important to people who use services, their families and their carers.

(CQC 2015)

At the end of last year the Care Quality Commission (for England) began a review looking at care for older people. It will explore how different services are organised and coordinated, and how this affects the quality of care that people receive. Details of their project can be found at:

The reason for highlighting this to you is not so much the projects, as the resources about integrated care that they have brought together on this page. So yes, please take a look at what they are doing, but take a look at what else you can access from here and you will get a really good idea where we are with integration. If you need something similar with more of a Scottish focus you can look at