Category Archives: Home and Care

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What works in tackling loneliness in later life?

 

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This week we have a guest blog from Marianne Siddorn at the Campaign to End Loneliness.  Age UK and the Campaign to End Loneliness have launched a new report on how to tackle this important issue.

The devastating impact loneliness can have on our mental and physical health makes it an issue we simply cannot ignore. For a growing number of older people, loneliness defines and shatters their lives.

But loneliness is also a deeply personal experience – a problem with different causes and consequences for every one of us. This is what makes addressing loneliness so complex. And despite a wide and growing recognition of the substantial public health implications of loneliness and the urgent need to take action, there is a significant knowledge gap among funders and commissioners about what really works in addressing it.

Promising approaches to reducing loneliness and isolation in later life, a report produced jointly by Age UK and the Campaign to End Loneliness, seeks to fill that knowledge gap and to offer some practical answers to that big question, what works in tackling loneliness? Continue reading

The devastating truth of the social care crisis

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We all want the best for our parents and grandparents as they get older, and for ourselves when we reach our later years. In later life we might need a bit of help doing some of the things we take for granted when we are younger, and some older people need support with everyday things like going to the toilet, washing and preparing meals.

In a shocking analysis just released by Age UK, we see a social care system in deep decline. Despite rising numbers of older people, and growing demand for social care support, the amount spent on social care services for older people has fallen in England by £1.1 billion since 2010/11.

The sad reality behind the front doors to many homes is that every day hundreds of thousands of older people are left to battle on alone. Continue reading

A relative in need brings home the importance of human rights

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To mark  Human Rights Day, Nicky Hawkins, Communications Director for Equally Ours – a campaign set up by eight national (including Age UK) charities to talk about the importance of human rights and how they benefit us all in everyday life, has contributed a guest post. 

It’s Human Rights Day today. Many reading this will wonder what this really means. Another day, another cause or issue to be championed or concerned about – why are human rights any different?

Despite working on human rights every day, it wasn’t until my mum had a spell in hospital that I felt like I had an answer to that question. She’s being cared for mainly at home now and her hospital stay was mercifully brief. But for me, hearing about her experience – from the trauma of a bad night to the relief of having someone sit with her and explain what was going on – brought home the vital importance of human rights for people who are reliant on others for their care.

Human rights mean there’s a system in place if something goes wrong. But, just as importantly, they provide reassurance to people who are vulnerable when they most need it. Jan, a disabled woman who used human rights laws says “it helped me to feel stronger because it told me it’s ok to want to be treated like a human being.” What could be more important when you’re frightened and alone? Continue reading

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Is the NHS on the brink of a winter crisis?

The mild days of late autumn are barely gone, yet concerns about a looming winter crisis in the NHS are already hitting the headlines. With financial pressure growing, performance targets slipping and hospitals already overstretched, a political storm has hit Westminster and Whitehall. Could another cold snap tip the NHS over the edge?

A SLIPPERY SLOPE?

Winter pressures in the NHS happen every year, as a result of higher emergency admissions and increased numbers of people requiring hospital care (e.g. people with respiratory conditions or winter viruses). Most of those affected are older people, many of whom have higher care needs and can be more vulnerable to the cold.

Yet, despite anticipatory planning and the usual precautions, there are growing concerns that accident and emergency (A&E) services are heading inevitably towards a midwinter meltdown. NHS statistics have revealed that A&E performance in late autumn this year has been worse than in the depths of last winter.

On average over the past four weeks, just 93.5% of patients attending A&E in England were seen within four hours, with 23 trusts failing to reach 90% last week. By contrast, above 95% of patients were seen within the required timeframe last winter.

WHAT ABOUT PATIENT SAFETY?

The unprecedented demand on A&Es has serious implications for older people’s health and experience of care. The high levels of bed occupancy have led to people being held in ambulances outside the hospital or waiting on trolleys for many hours. This has also had a knock-on effect on other hospital services, with patients having their appointments and operations cancelled.

For the many older people who are lonely and isolated, or living with frailty or dementia, the inability of A&Es to respond to their needs can be disastrous. Due to a lack of appropriate support in the community, they are often forced to wait until they reach a crisis for a response and rely on emergency admissions for help. Arriving in a worse state of health, they are then faced with a fraught and overstretched urgent care centre or A&E. Continue reading