Getting More Older People Online

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This week I found something I needed months possibly years ago. Unfortunately, though, it didn’t exist. So I am pleased that finally, I have found  A really useful guide to “Helping Older People Use the Internet” which has been published this week by the Good Things Foundation. This foundation is a UK-based registered charity that is working towards a world where everyone benefits from digital and yes they mean older people as well!!!

They have supported over 2m people in gaining digital skills since their foundation in 2010, so I think they know what they are talking about. The guide was produced in partnership with the Centre for Ageing Better, one of my go-to organisations when I am looking for some inspiration for Blogging.

So if you are looking for the guide you can just click here The Foundation also hosts a website of free online courses, called “Learn My Way” which helps people improve their digital skills. I might have to head back there myself and if not, I know some students who might want to take a quick trip before their next module. 🙂 To visit “Learn My Way” click here.

 

 

 

 

A Fairer Scotland for Older People: Our New Framework for Action

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In another “under the BBC’s/National media radar production”, the Scottish Government this week released its new framework aimed at challenging the inequalities older people face as they age in Scotland. The framework which is the result of an engagement process with older people (aged 50+) across Scotland which involved many of the organisations that support them, the report identifies some of the issues that are key to ensuring people are healthy, happy and secure in their older age.

Amongst its proposals are a number of actions related to the health and social care integration agenda  including proposing actions such as:

  • Engaging with the Older People’s Strategic Action Forum on integration.
  • Revising statutory guidance on local community engagement and participation by the end of 2019.
  • Ensuring carers and other representatives on Scotland’s Integration Joint Boards are supported by local partnerships to meaningfully engage with all future Board decision-making processes.

They have prepared a nice visual executive summary of what the report covers HERE

To download and read the full report CLICK HERE

If this had been the children’ s report would you have heard about it?

 

@TheKingsFund, @HealthFdn and @NuffieldTrust Warn of Urgent Need to Tackle NHS Workforce Crisis

In the three years or more that this Blog has existed, this topic is one that I have kept returning to. Finally we seem to have reached a point where what is going on is obvious to everyone.

According to The Nuffield Trust, The King’s Fund and the Health Foundation the UK is facing massive staff shortages across the National Health Service that are so severe that services will suffer, with no chance of the shortfall in GP’s ever being fully addressed. The report predicts that without the kind of actions the new report called Closing the Gap proposes, nurse shortages will double to 70,000 and the GP shortage in England would triple to 7,000 in just 5 years (by 2023/24).

For nursing alone the report concludes that even with grants and expansion of postgraduate training, bringing 5,000 more students onto nursing courses each year and actions to stop nurses leaving the NHS, the gap cannot be entirely filled domestically and that in order to keep services functioning, 5,000 nurses a year must therefore also be ethically recruited from abroad. Essentially rubbishing the salary restrictions to recruitment proposed in the Immigration White Paper.

In fact they suggest that the government needs to fund the visa costs incurred by NHS Trust recruitment. Also, as I have said on numerous occassions before in this blog a comprehensive overhaul of social care funding is needed immediately to stop the poor pay and condition that both drives staff away and makes new recruitment near impossible.

Apparently the NHS England’s own Workforce Implementation Plan is expected next month. My guess is that is being ripped up and binned as we speak along with the aspirations of the recent NHS Long Term Plan

To download the report in full GO HERE

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Social Care Workers in Scotland Put Up With Unfair Conditions

 

PUBLICATION-Social-care-report-01-FINAL-VERSION-sent-to-APS_revised-on...-1-pdfMost people probably missed this because as always this issue didn’t seem to be widely discussed. However, if you want to have a dedicated, committed and well-trained workforce you shouldn’t be undervaluing and treating the current workforce badly. Although this report is about the situation in Scotland it’s just as relevant to the whole of the UK and quite probably much of Europe and the Rest of the World

On 26th February 2019 the Fair Work Convention in Scotland published its report Fair Work in Scotland’s Social Care Sector 2019.

The report calls for urgent interventions by policy makers, commissioners and leaders in the social care sector to improve the quality of work and employment for the 200,000 strong workforce in Scotland. The social care workforce represents 7.7% of the total workforce – about 82% of them women. They include home care workers, residential carers, social workers, nurses and childcare staff.

The report highlights that many people are on precarious contracts in a sector in which they have little power or influence. Women told the Convention team that they enjoy being involved in people’s lives and like that they make a positive difference. However, society needs to value social care as a profession.

There is considerable use of zero-hours contracts, underemployment and seasonal contracts. The report says that staff also frequently worked beyond contracted hours and did unpaid overtime.

The convention, which advises the Scottish Government, called for a watchdog to monitor working conditions and draft a “fair work” contract. It also needs to take urgent action to bring about a radical overhaul of social care and to use fair work principles to drive high-quality services for some of our most vulnerable people.

This report goes on to makes recommendations about how to realise fair work for social care workers by setting out what policy makers, commissioners and leaders in Scotland’s social care sector can and should do.

The 18-month study was led by the chief executive of Alzheimer Scotland Henry Simmons and Lilian Macer from Unison.

To download and read the report go to https://www.fairworkconvention.scot/our-report-on-fair-work-in-social-care/

You might also want to look at the following report from the Scottish Social Services Council

The Scottish Social Service Sector: Report on 2017 Workforce Data, An Official Statistics Publication for Scotland

Let’s hope that this report and the work of the convention will start to change the situation in Scotland at least.

Why are UK Citizens Overwhelmingly Negative About Getting Old?

‘The Perennials’, a study carried out in partnership between IPSOS MORI and the Centre for Ageing Better, reveals that just three in ten (30%) of UK adults say they are looking forward to later life. Half (50%) say they worry about getting old.

The Report called “The Perennials: The Future of Ageing” looks our ageing societies and the challenges and opportunities this presents. The Ipsos Mori study was global in that it was conducted and illustrates attitudes to ageing across 30 different countries.

Their research shows that, globally, there is a great deal of negativity towards later life, with financial and health concerns prevalent. However, much of this negativity is propagated by a media that does not do enough to portray later life as a time of potential. It is, therefore, perhaps, little surprise that when describing those in old age, people commonly reach for terms like ‘frail’, ‘lonely’.

However, as Ben Page, the Chief Executive of Ipsos MORI states this fails to do justice to the full diversity of experiences in later life.

The over-50s now command nearly half of all spending power in many countries.
People in their later years are increasingly packing their life to the full. For many, their reality doesn’t necessarily align with the labels the media are giving them. They are not slowing down but taking on new challenges, roles and responsibilities. Those with money to spend are smart about spending it.

They’re not digital natives but they are more connected than we give them credit for. They’re not withdrawing from life, but demanding more from it and from their societies.

Yes, old age is a time of great hardship and there are very real issues such as poverty,
isolation and ill-health that needs urgent attention. However, there is also another side of later life – one that we don’t hear about often enough because it doesn’t fit with ageist and lazy media stereotypes.

For a breath of fresh air visit the Report website at https://thinks.ipsos-mori.com/the-perennials-the-future-of-ageing/

To download and read the full report CLICK HERE

Social Care in Crisis

England and the rest of the country have now waited over a year for the Government’s long-promised Social Care Green Paper for it only to disappear amidst the current Brexit blizzard.

Parts of the new Long Term Plan for the NHS in England are dependent on securing realistic funding for social care and maintaining and increasing investment in public health. Neither of these looks particularly likely at the moment. The failure to address these concerns now means that local authority funding cuts have seen social care services stripped back to the bare minimum in most areas. Things are so bad that Age UK estimated that 54,000 people – or 77 people a day have died while waiting for a care package in the 700 days since the Westminister government first said in March 2017 it would publish its social care green paper.

Age UK has also said tightening eligibility for council-funded social care meant 626,701 people – 895 a day – have had requests for social care refused since March 2017. More than a million older people had developed an unmet care need in that time, such as needing help with washing or dressing.

Meanwhile, ministers continue to dither over these long-awaited plans and have failed to produce any additional funds admitting that delays to the publication of the paper and institution of the new funding arrangements are in part because of Whitehall’s overwhelming focus on Brexit.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK, said:

“These tragic new figures demonstrate just how many older people are now suffering from the government’s failure to act decisively on social care. No one can say whether some of those who have died might have lived longer had they received care, but at the very least their final weeks and months might have been more comfortable and their families’ lives made easier had they been given more support.”

The charity said its helpline received calls daily from people struggling to get a care package in place, often putting great strain on their health and causing stress for loved ones. To read the full article form Age UK Click Here

Age UK  have also started a Care in Crisis Campaign which we should all support. They suggest contacting your MP using their pre-prepared letter.

If you live in England I think you should be doing that at the very least!

More Insights into Global Ageing

On Universal Health Coverage Day, which fell on the 12th. of December 2018, HelpAge International and the AARP Foundation launched Global AgeWatch Insights 2018, a new report that analyses older people’s right to health in the context of current demographic, epidemiological and health systems transitions.

As the global population ages, health systems need to adapt to ensure older women and men can realise their right to health. How much they need to be changed can be illustrated with just a few statistics.

In 2018, the global population aged 60 and over surpassed one billion, and it continues to rise in almost all countries around the world. This move toward an ageing population is accompanied not unsurprisingly by a shift towards a rise in the number of people dying from non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

Of the 41 million annual deaths caused by non-communicable diseases globally, 32 million occur in low and middle-income countries, which is changing the demands being placed on these healthcare systems.

The key findings of this new report worth noting

  • Some healthcare systems are reliant on data which should inform the planning and delivery of health services systematically excludes older people.
  • Older people are prevented from accessing health services by cost, lack of transport, discrimination, and inadequate training of health workers.
  • Although women are living longer, they live more years in poor health, and with disability, depression and dementia.

As with all their Global Age Watch reports this one is accompanied by some great infographics including the one I have chosen to highlight below.

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About the Report of the “Fair Dementia Care Commission” #fairdementiacare

dxkwtumwkae4bxoIt was easy to pick what I would Blog about this week because the Fair Dementia Care Commission Report was published on Tuesday (22nd. Jan 2019). The commission was established by Alzheimer Scotland to look at inequalities in access to health care and the impact of the current social care charges regime on people living with advanced dementia and their families in Scotland. Chaired by Henry McLeish, the commission brought together a small group of experts to work in partnership with Alzheimer Scotland to make a series of recommendations to the inequalities they uncovered.

Paying for care remains one of the most common issues Alzheimer Scotland is asked about principally because of the complexity and lack of transparency around the financial assessment processes used by social services across the different local authority areas. Most people, me included,  don’t understand how the process works.

What they found was that although its known that advanced dementia produces complex health, nursing and social care needs people with advanced dementia did not have equality of access to the health care they need – instead advanced dementia was only considered as an Illness requiring a social care response.

As a consequence, people with advanced dementia were disproportionately subject to social care charges for what were primarily health and nursing care needs which in Scotland are generally free!

The result has been that people with advanced dementia and their families and carers have been paying an estimated £50.9m per year in social care charges for care which doesn’t provide the health or nursing care they require and perhaps if they could access that care may possibly have been delivered free of charge.

The report highlights that the complex needs associated with advanced dementia have not been fully understood or recognised as health or nursing care needs and therefore have not been delivered free.

The report calls for authorities across Scotland to accept and recognise that people with advanced dementia must have the equality of access to free health care on a par with people who are living with other progressive and terminal illnesses. Something which I fully support.

If you want to find out more and access a full copy of the report go to “Former First Minister launches advanced dementia care report” and visit and support #fairdementiacare

 

The Release of the NHS Long Term Plan

Last week saw the release of NHS England’s NHS Plan, a Plan which the Westminster government says will save almost half a million more lives with practical action on major killer conditions and investment in world-class, cutting edge treatments including genomic tests for every child with cancer. The Plan has been heralded as

…a  blueprint to make the NHS (in England) fit for the future will use the latest technology, such as digital GP consultations for all those who want them, coupled with early detection and a renewed focus on prevention to stop an estimated 85,000 premature deaths each year.

While I support this development and the additional funds that accompany this move which will also filter through to the NHS in Scotland. They have their own plan, called the  Health and Social Care Delivery Plan.

I remain very concerned that the Green Paper on Social Care reform and spending is still posted as missing!  If the future is Integration of health and Social Care, then surely both papers needed to be released together… or at least within days of each other. However, we are still waiting…. See my own comment from June 2018 whihc you can see by clicking the link below

https://raymondsolderpeopleblog.wordpress.com/2018/06/23/where-did-that-green-paper-go-plus-nice-dementia-guidance-is-newly-updated/

Rather than give my own view of the details of the plan it’s worth reading what Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director, Age UK says about the plan which she had some involvement in shaping. Her view can be read here

https://ageukblog.org.uk/2019/01/07/the-nhs-plan-what-will-it-mean-for-older-people/

Also this week, The Journal of the American Geriatric Society, one of the principal journals for older people’s clinical sciences, innovative models of care, and health policy has released its list of top 10 articles from last year (according to Twitter activity). You can see the list at JAGS @AGSJournal. I’d recommend looking at 2 in particular that interested me

#1 Most Mentioned Article: Can Exercise Improve Cognitive Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease?

#2 Most Mentioned Article: Medical Costs of Fatal and Nonfatal Falls in Older Adults. (which I think I might have highlighted before.

The Importance of Food Shopping

The University of Hertfordshire’s Food and Public Health Research team have recently completed a study calledFood provision in later life” which was a study about older people’s experiences of getting food in the UK.

The research aimed to show how older people from different household types acquired food,  what food they bought and the people and places they acquired it from. The study was funded by the Food Standards Agency and the Economic and Social Research Council to explore the resilience of older people within the UK food system. One of their outputs was a research briefing, ‘Improving food shopping for older people’ is now available to read via this link.

It’s well worth reading before your next trip down to the supermarket, particularly if you shop with or for an older person as I do.

The video the team produced which is on the BSG’s Ageing Bites Youtube channel  gives you an idea of why this is such an important topic to consider, although it is often taken for granted that older people will manage.

One of the things I like most about this study though is that the researchers have gone on to to develop a “The Food in Later Life Game” to help people learn more about malnutrition in older people and the actions they can take to help prevent/manage it.

Launched on the 3 October 2018, the game aims to help retailers, professionals, volunteers and other members of the community who work with and live alongside older people to understand how to help the older generation remain ‘food secure’. You can find out more about the game at the following website:

http://www.foodinlaterlifegame.co.uk/index.html