Two stories caught my eye this week and they are both part of the same issue, which is really about making towns and cities in the future fit for older people to live in.
Urbanisation alongside Ageing are the biggest demographic shifts of my life time and governments have been very slow to react to both. However Manchester, yes the UK one :), was the first UK city to join the World Health Organization’s (WHO) newly established Global Network for Age-friendly Cities and Communities in 2010. Last year Greater Manchester set a similar precedent when it became the UK’s first city-region to join the network. Working with the University of Manchester Age Friendly Manchester a partnership involving organisations, groups and individuals across the city have been testing some of the theories about how age-friendliness might be achieved helping to define key priorities for ongoing and future work. The result is a detailed workplan a summary of which you can find HERE
For more about the collaboration with the University of Manchester CLICK HERE
The second story is a report by the Centre for Better Ageing decrying the state of the UK housing stock and the need to build homes more suitable to the needs of Britain’s older people. This is a topic that I return to more frequently now in my blog probably because inadequate housing and heating kills. Work done in Manchester, commissioned by Greater Manchester Combined Authority and funded by the Centre for Ageing Better, has revealed that those on low- and middle- incomes can find themselves trapped in homes which are no longer appropriate for them as they age. For more on this topic see Building better homes is good for everyone – not just older people
The key messages from both these stories is that that we must improve accessibility within our cities for everyone. We also need a radical rethink on the design and accessibility of new homes and the condition and accessibility of existing housing needs a lot more attention (and spending) than its getting currently.
Making environments more age-friendly will benefit us all!
In common with other countries, more people in the UK die in the winter than in the summer. Health Protection Scotland and other agencies point out that the deaths can often be attributed in part to cold weather directly (for instance deaths following falls, fractures, and road traffic accidents), in part to cold weather worsening chronic medical
conditions (for example, heart and respiratory complaints), and in part to respiratory infections including influenza.
Last winter though was carnage though particularly if you were a woman or aged 85 and over (See Excess Winter Deaths England and Wales)
If you combine the England, Wales and Scottish figures the number of excess UK winter deaths last winter was 54,879.
Sadly, our national disgrace continues and if anything things might slowly be getting worse after many years of improvement when the overall trend had been downwards since 2013-14 there has been a rising trend.
To give this more of a context in Scotland the +4,797 deaths considered to be excess was the largest number since winter 1999/2000. The +50,100 deaths in England and Wales was the highest recorded since winter 1975 to 1976.
Research released by the E3G group in February 2018 indicates not just why this happens but why this should be a source of national embarrassment. Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden all have fewer winter deaths per capita population than we do and there is little doubt that they are colder. To learn more and access the E3G group report CLICK HERE
I agree with the authors of the report that this preventable tragedy must end. It’s time for the UK Government’s (England Wales and Scotland) to get a move on and do something significant to provide the capital investment necessary to make many more UK’s homes warmer and safe for human habitation.
Here I am highlighting health inequalities again. On Friday 24th. Public Health Information for Scotland (ScotPHO) released their latest report showing the scale of the problem. They found that people living in the poorest areas in Scotland have double the rate of illness and early death than people in our wealthiest areas. Nearly a third (32.9%) of early deaths and ill health in Scotland could be avoided if the whole population had the same life circumstances as the people who live in the wealthiest areas. The report comes from an ongoing project at ScotPHO called National Burden of Disease, Injuries and Risk Factors Study in Scotland and was initially a two year ScotPHO project funded by the Scottish Chief Scientist Office, which has now become an ongoing research study. You can download this new report The Scottish Burden of Disease Study, 2016 Deprivation report HERE They also have a neat page on the NHS Health Scotland Page which shows the leading causes of ill-health and early death at Impact of deprivation on health
I also found this!
A neat 7 minutes on Power as a fundamental cause of Health Inequality
This week Myself, Dr Louise Ritchie (@Lourit) and Dr Margaret Brown (@owlbroon) wrote the Blog piece for “Lets Talk About Dementia” a blog hosted and supported by Alzheimer Scotland and led by allied health professionals. Their blog shares the work and practice of the allied health professionals in relation to dementia care. It offers advice for people living with dementia, their carers, partners and families. It is also a great source of information for all health and social care professionals. So our piece published on it about Housing and Dementia in Scotland can be found HERE
If you have a particular interest in ageing well in place you might also want to look at the Centre for Better Ageing Report on the Role of Home Adaptations on Improving Later Life which you can find at their page on Living in a suitable home and neighbourhood
Lastly this week one of my UWS Colleagues Susie Gamble and Brendan Martin, Managing Director, Public World and Buurtzorg, Britain & Ireland and Barbara McFadzean, District Nursing Sister/Queen’s Nurse, Crosshouse, Ayrshire are leading an International Foundation for Integrated Care Scotland Webinar next week on Wednesday 18th April 2018 between 12 pm-1pm. They will be discussing the role of the District Nurse in managing people with frailty in the community. There is some further information on the site below, along with a link to register for the Webinar.
The webinar will be recorded and will be at the IFIC site afterwards to listen to.
A strange piece of augury last week picking a ‘Care home for 4 year-olds’ as my topic. Today a report by the group United for all Ages warns that there is a widening gap between older and younger generations, largely fuelled by the UK housing crisis, which has forced young people to live in cheaper urban areas, while their parents and grandparents live in the suburbs or the countryside. They say that urgent action is needed to create 500 shared sites across the country by 2022 to try and end ‘age apartheid’ in Britain.
Britain is one of the most age-segregated countries in the world, particularly for the oldest and youngest generations and age segregation has been growing in recent decades
Their report called Mixing Matters was published today (5 January 2018). Worth downloading and reading (even the News Release) to get an idea just how divided a society we are becoming.
Shared sites, such as care-home nurseries (as featured on Channel 4); opening up sheltered housing schemes to students in return for volunteering and support; expanding the Homeshare scheme where older people let spare rooms to young people in return for practical support and companionship; Locating reception and year one classes for primary school children in care homes, as demonstrated by shared sites in the USA; and tackling the stigma around ageism and dementia by encouraging school pupils to visit care homes as part of the national curriculum bring young and old together and are practical methods for tackling some of the big social ills facing our country – from poor health and care and loneliness to ageism and division.
What’s not to like about this!
Earlier this year Channel 4 in the UK ran a documentary series where pre-schoolers shared their classroom with pensioners from a retirement home in Bristol for six weeks. The two programmes can still be viewed on Catch up at All 4
Just before Christmas to highlight the problem of isolation over the holidays as an issue for older people at Christmas a new programme was created in the same format that brought the pensioners and their young friends together again as they prepare for a Christmas concert.
For a bit of life-affirming and interesting television take a look at Old People’s Home for 4-Year-Olds: Christmas
The coldest day of the winter so far with temperatures plunging below minus 13C in Scotland happened this week on the 28th. of December. A good time again to remind everyone to look out for and pop in to see their older neighbours. Make sure they have enough food are staying warm because you could be saving their lives. Remember, the estimates are that 80 frail and vulnerable people per day in the UK are at risk of dying as a result of fuel poverty. Interested in finding out more about fuel poverty there is a charity called Energy Action Scotland (EAS) which campaigns for an end to fuel poverty in Scotland and is the only national charity with this sole remit. If you want to know more about what they do Click Here!
Back in July I posted about a report done by my colleagues here at UWS’s @AlzScotCPP on the need for improvements in housing required in Scotland to support people who have dementia now and into the future. See my post here Well this month saw the publication of a larger report by the Local Government Association for England which has stated that with one in five of the overall population in England set to be over 65 in a decade, a “residential revolution” needs to occur to provide more homes that support our ageing population. They have suggested that we need to increase the number of specialist homes for older people by 400,000 units in less than 20 years to catch up with places like the USA and Australia where a more developed market exists for retirement housing. Cllr Martin Tett, the LGA’s Housing spokesman pointed out that councils cannot tackle this issue alone. Support from government, which incentivises housebuilding and provides councils with the funding and resources they need, is crucial to every local authority’s efforts to support positive ageing. You can read more about this issue and download the full report at
You can also watch a short video about the report here: