Last week Age UK hosted a conference that looked at the significant role that the voluntary and community sector plays in managing long-term conditions and what role it can play in the future in partnership with the NHS and social care. This was a great opportunity to bring together clinical commissioning groups, local authority commissioners and voluntary sector ogranisations to consider the reality of the daily life for people that are living with long term conditions, discuss policy aspirations and share examples of positive practice in helping people live well and manage their own health.
For Age UK the issue of long-term conditions is tremendously important.
- At any one time 65 per cent of people in hospital will be over the age of 65.
- In the UK an estimated 4 million older people in the UK have a limiting longstanding illness and if nothing is done to address age-related disease there will be 6 million people with a long-term illness or disability by 2030.
If the Government is committed to making the NHS more effective and efficient it has to adapt for an ageing society. Without addressing this issue we believe that is it unlikely that reform of the NHS will be truly successful. We were therefore delighted that the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, spoke at the conference showing the commitment of the Department of Health.
The Health Secretary said about people living with long-term conditions, “I want to free people with long-term conditions from the constant merry-go-round of doctors’ surgeries and hospitals. Technology can help people manage their condition at home, free up a lot of time and save the NHS money.”
He confirmed in his speech that seven ‘pathfinders’, NHS and local authority organisations including clinical commissioning groups, are to agree contracts with industry suppliers that will mean 100,000 people will be able to benefit from telehealth next year.
At Age UK we believe that empowering people to respond to changes in their long-term conditions or helping them take control of their symptoms through using technology could help them to remain independent for longer and avoid the need for health services. For older people, this could mean staying in their own home and retaining confidence to carry on with their day-to-day lives.
Following the Health Secretary’s speech, delegates shared insights about not only the use of telecare in managing long-term conditions but the importance of integration and how we need to better understand what is important in each person’s life, to ensure that care is person-centered.