Some weeks are bad weeks but this week could rank as one of the worst for bad news about the NHS and its relationship with older people in a long time.
Firstly we had the revelation that 450,000 women aged between 68-71 had not been invited to routine breast cancer screening due to a computer error, that has been traced back to 2009!. Public Health England has said that it was not aware of a national problem with the screening programme until January 2018, which seems a bit worrying when they were aware at the same time that screening uptake amongst older women was falling. Watch out for the public inquiry and subsequent report particularly since NHS “everywhere else” didn’t have the same problem. Most people are probably unaware that a full review of the NHS breast screening programme was undertaken in 2012. So if you are affected by this systems failure in any way it’s worth looking at THIS REPORT and making your own mind up about the impact that it may have had on you or your loved one. My concern is that if this had been any other group would it have been noticed sooner and acted upon earlier?
As if that wasn’t bad enough a report released today (May 4th. 2018) is probably worse and even more significant. The annual report for 2017 of the Learning Disabilities Mortality Review (LeDeR) was released today and did make the national news. Their findings are very worrying and point to problems with institutional discrimination across services dealing with people with learning disabilities to the extent that life expectancy at birth if you have a learning disability is 19.7 years lower than for people without learning disabilities. Equally disturbing is that more than a third of deaths of people with learning disabilities were potentially amenable to health care interventions. Again much more will be said about this in the coming days and months so it’s worth taking a look at the primary source, which you can see and download from THIS SITE.
I haven’t even mentioned the dementia care ward at Glan Clwyd Hospital, in Denbighshire which closed in 2013 and it’s culture of “institutional abuse”. Too sad to go there but if you want to know more see this BBC Wales TIMELINE
People lose an estimated £10bn to fraud every year. People of all ages and backgrounds are victims. However, older people are over- represented as victims of particular frauds, including pension and investment scams, postal scams, doorstep scams and telephone scams. Some older people are especially at risk, either because they are deliberately targeted or because they are vulnerable, for example if they are bereaved, lonely or living with dementia. The financial and health impacts can be devastating. Consider for example that people defrauded in their own homes are 2.5 times more likely to either die or go into residential care within a year.
OK, so I have made my point, but why has this come to my attention this week. Age UK and Action Fraud
(who are the UK’s National Fraud and Cyber Crime Reporting centre), have joined forces to launch new pilot programme to combat scams targeting older Londoners. The new programme will initially be piloted in London with the aim of creating a prevention model that can be rolled out nationally. The programme aims to support older victims, and raise awareness of scams more widely to help empower older people to feel more confident at spotting and avoiding scams.
So I am not living anywhere near London. I am disappointed there is only one pilot site but happy that at least something is being done and thought, ‘I could do my bit to raise awareness particularly given the health consequences of being scammed.’ You can find out more about these from a great little Age UK booklet called “Older People Frauds and Scams” which you can download HERE,
it was released in October 2017.
There is also a video accompanying the new programme which you can access on this Age UK News page
Now all this information is no good just posted here so if you read this far, please share this with the people you know who will benefit. (That’s just about everyone!)
Sorry I went “missing” for a week, nothing unfortunate, just a holiday where I didn’t have the time or reliable access to the internet to sort my post out. I think its quite a while since I went a whole week without posting.
I’m back this week and many thanks to Kate Swaffer for bringing this to my attention. This month saw the release of a Human Rights Report into misuse of anti-psychotic medication in dementia care in USA.
The report ‘They Want Docile’: How Nursing Homes in the United States Overmedicate People with Dementia, estimates that every week in US nursing facilities, more than 179,000 people, mostly older and living with dementia, are given anti-psychotic drugs without a diagnosis for which their use is approved. Often, nursing facilities use these drugs without obtaining or even seeking informed consent. Using anti-psychotic medications as a “chemical restraint”—for the convenience of staff or to discipline residents— violates US federal regulations (and regulations in most EU countries including the UK) and may amount to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment under international human rights law.
Yet another reminder of the dangers of these drugs, a problem very effectively highlighted in UK healthcare on the publication of the Banerjee Report in 2009.
Things have been improving in the UK but it is still an issue worth highlighting and bringing to people’s attention. Particularly bearing in mind that the Department of Health in 2012 said antipsychotic use was still “resulting in as many as 1,800 unnecessary deaths per year.” despite the improving awareness of the problem. Note that overprescribing of anti-psychotics is not confined to nursing homes. In fact many nursing homes have arrangements in place to minimise all over-prescribing that many healthcare professionals could learn from. See the HALT project in Sydney and this deprescribing anti-psychotics algorithm from Ontario if you want some inspiration for reducing anti-psychotic prescribing for the people living with dementia that you care for.
So I’ll leave you with a final thought,
How could we possibly think that it is a good idea to treat stress, distress and unmet needs using sedation?”
At the end of April 2017, I posted some information about a campaign aimed at trying to limit the extent of deconditioning syndrome by encouraging older people in hospital to get up and get dressed in their day clothes sooner in order to encourage more walking and safer walking early in rehabilitation called #EndPJparalysis . In support of this campaign, this month Nursing Older People’s Research Focus page suggests some articles that you might want to read on this topic that support the campaign. Two of them are quite old but one is a recent French study has a strong message for all staff dealing with older people in Hospital. The article is
Sourdet, S., Lafont, C., Rolland, Y., Nourhashemi, F., Andrieu, S. and Vellas, B. (2015). Preventable iatrogenic disability in elderly patients during hospitalisation. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, 16(8), pp.674-681.
Which you can access via Science Direct. You can take a look at the abstract here
Two other things of note this month. This week is Carers week and an interesting YouGov poll was conducted on behalf of eight major charities who are calling on the new UK Government and society to do more to recognise the important contribution that unpaid carers make. You can view and download the report called “Building a carer
friendly society” at the Carers Week website
Finally, yesterday was World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and the WHO have estimated that as many as 1 in 6 older people are affected by abuse. They have created a page in support of this day that includes a link to a report published in Lancet Global Health which you can download and read on elder abuse prevalence at WHO Elder Abuse Awareness
There Infographic is also great.