Feeling Lonely and Cold? Unfortunately Your Not the Only One.

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Its the 1st of December and Age Scotland has launched its Christmas campaign, “No one should have no one”. A recent survey they have undertaken reveals that they think about 60,000 people aged over 65 will have no-one to spend Christmas Day with, a 50 percent increase over 2015 figures. Another 80,000 say they feel lonelier at Christmas time than at any other time of year, with those who have been widowed most at risk. They haven’t published the full survey results yet but you can see their report by clicking the link here  Age Scotland Report

They are hoping to highlight the extent of loneliness and isolation in Scotland and encourage people to take action to reduce loneliness in their communities. Interested to find out what you can do? Go to The Campaign to End Loneliness

December also signals now my annual rant about winter deaths because today is the day that we here in the UK start counting!

So why do I go on about this? Well let’s use the Scottish Government’s own figures

There were 20,930 deaths registered in Scotland in the four months of winter 2016/17
from (December to March), compared with 20,509 in winter 2015/16. Comparing the number of deaths in the four winter months with the average for the two adjacent four-month periods, the seasonal increase in mortality in winter 2016/17 was 2,720. This was 130 fewer than the corresponding value of 2,850 for the previous winter.
So what that means is that every year about 2,800 people in Scotland die from the cold.
Just in case for some reason you think that this is OK, its been happening for every winter from 1951/52 when they began counting, and things aren’t really getting better. The seasonal increase of 2,720 in winter 2016/17 was smaller than in most of the previous 65 winters but exceeded the level seen in 10 of the previous 20 winters, and in 5 of the previous 10 winters.
According to the World Economic Forum 2017, we here in the UK live in the 5th richest economy on the planet yet people still die from the cold at an excessive rate in the winter from essentially fuel poverty. This is just embarrassing and shameful and our figures are consistently worse than Scandinavian countries so we have no real excuse.
Want to find out more go to the End Fuel Poverty Coalition

 

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Help Needed! Do you Live in Lanarkshire?

 

 

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NHS Lanarkshire

 

I am helping to stage an event on behalf of the British Society of Gerontology and NHS Lanarkshire next week where it hoped we can bring staff, students and older people together to discuss and identify some local priorities for research in the coming years. If we create a list of priorities then people within the Health Board and at the university can encourage our Master’s students, in particular, to take on projects that look at these priority areas. So a win-win situation for everyone! However, we don’t have enough older people attending and we would really like their help since their priorities are everyone’s priority!

So if you are living in the area covered by the Health Board and are over 60 please come and join us. You will be made most welcome. You only need to come along in the afternoon from about 12:00, if you want to join us for lunch until 3 pm. If you stay afterwards you can find out what a Tovertafel is? For full details of the event click this link. If you can make it let Caroline know at caroline.gibson@uws.ac.uk or call her at 016984441.

Worth noting also this week was the report by Audit Scotland into the use of Self Directed Support. Since 2014 councils have been responsible for implementing Self-directed Support (SDS), which offers people more choices around their support and how it is managed. This is now largely provided by the new local health and social care integration authorities drawn from bothcouncils and the NHS.

The report published this week states that says while many people have benefited from SDS, integration authorities still have a lot to do to enable more people to take it up. Local Councils spend £3.4 billion a year on social care supporting more than 200,000 vulnerable adults and 18,000 children and their families. Assistance ranges from everyday tasks such as dressing and preparing meals to helping individuals live more fulfilling lives at home, at work and in their communities. The report highlights areas of good practice such as giving front line staff powers to spend small amounts that can make a big difference.

On the ground, however, not everyone is getting to choose and control their social care the way they want to and staff need more support to try new approaches. The majority of staff are positive about the principles of SDS but everyone involved faces challenges in offering flexible services, particularly recruiting and retaining social care workers. To access the full report click the link to

Audit Scotland Report

 

Recognising the Work of Scotland’s National Dementia Champions

Nicola Wood

Congratulations to Nicola Wood who works at Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert Scotland who this year was Highly Commended in The Nursing Older People category of the RCNi  Nurse Awards 2017. Nicola’s work on reducing hospital interhospital movement for people with dementia featured in the July edition of Nursing Older People. You can see an item about the article at the Nursing Older People Journal site at the moment. As you might know, the School of Nursing here at the University of the West of Scotland are responsible for delivering the National Dementia Champions programme and Nicola is one of the 700 plus champions already out in the field. See National Dementia Champions

If you want to find out more about more what else the National Dementia Champions are involved in go to Twitter and look for #oneweething

Ten Things We Need to Know About Dementia

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This week the Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention and Intervention and Care published its findings which included 10 key messages that are the things we need to know!

Quite a lot of the media reports of this important paper have highlighted only the lifestyle changes that need to be made to reduce your risk of developing dementia but very few highlight the bottom line… which is even if you make the positive  lifestyle changes suggested that would reduce your potentially modifiable risk factors by  about 35% of your overall risk. The other 65% of dementia risk is thought to be potentially non-modifiable.

The paper though, says a lot more than this and “Being ambitious about prevention” the one the media focussed on is only No 2 on the list, so there are 9 more messages that got a lot less attention! To see the Lancet Paper click here Be warned it’s not short!

So what else caught my attention? Well this did the Commonwealth Fund, which surprisingly is a private American foundation that aims to promote a high performing health care system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency in US Healthcare recently reported on a comparison they had made between 10 high-income countries health care systems performance: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Worryingly the USA came last in nearly everything. Surprisingly the top country was the UK! Who says our Health Care system is failing? I think it’s actually being failed by a Government that wants to adopt an American Healthcare Model.

The time has come to ask why when they, the USA, should be learning from us!

As the Commonwealth Fund report states, based on a broad range of indicators, the U.S. health system is an outlier, spending far more but falling short of the performance achieved by other high-income countries. The results suggest the U.S. health care system should look at other countries’ approaches if it wants to achieve an affordable high-performing health care system that serves all Americans.

To read more about this report and to access the full version click here

Doing Literature Reviews and the Latest from the Royal College of OT’s

This week Susan Shenkin one of the editors for the British Geriatrics Society’s (BGS) Age and Ageing Journal has written the BGS’s Blog page. What she is writing about is her recent article in the journal that aims to provide guidance for people conducting systematic reviews relevant to the healthcare of older people.

If you are a student of mine doing your Masters please take note. This is great guidance for you to follow particularly as you head towards your dissertation. While the guidance is really there for review teams, it embraces a number of principles and contains some good tips that you could easily follow To see Susan’s Blog post go here. 

To download the article (which is Open Access) Click the link below

Systematic reviews: guidance relevant for studies of older people

This week also saw the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT’s) publish their new report which is calling on the NHS and Local Authorities to refocus health and social care services. They warn that unless there is a shift from a ‘high volume, low cost’ approach to care, to one which sees the whole person’s overall wellbeing services will struggle to meet future demands.

In its report, the RCOT’s seeks to show how doing the right thing for individuals can
actually, reduce their need for expensive care long-term. It calls for an end to the postcode lottery in access to occupational therapy which is a barrier to people in need receiving high quality, person-centred care that enables people to stay as active, independent and safe as possible. For more details about their new report and to download the document go to  Living, not Existing: Putting prevention at the heart of care for older people

The video accompanying the report is here:

Care Homes and Bad Press

 

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No More Bad News

 

I am always reluctant to post bad news about UK Care Homes because the negative publicity they receive is often underserved and reflects very poorly on most of the staff I meet from this sector of healthcare that do an amazing job, with far less support and money than their NHS counterparts. However, it was difficult to ignore this week the CQC which has suggested that 1 in 3 care homes in England may not be ‘safe’ with inspectors also noting they had a particular problem recruiting and retaining nurses.

So just to be clear here is the link to the CQC’s own press release that the news stories have been based on which contains the link to the full report which is called “The state of adult social care services 2014 to 2017”

A more interesting take on this is provided by one of my favourite Blogs, written by a man caring for his wife who has Dementia called Remember Me: Seeking the Good Life. To see what he has to say on the topic go to “Dementia Care Homes – The Futility of Inspection”

The obvious question now is how does Scotland fair in comparison? You get some idea from the raw data at the Care Commission Website Are we really in the same country?

After the negatives how about a positive in the same field. This is from England’s My Home Life Blog which is full of great stories and ideas for Care Homes and the particular Blog I am selecting Award Winning Service Share Their Learning is in very sharp contrast to all the usual reports of bad care. Enjoy reading this and exploring the site further.

The Importance of Vision Assessment

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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.

If we stick to the same topic the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) have created a resource page called Promoting good eye health for Dementia and Sight Loss Awareness Week 2017

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