Heatwaves – a hot topic

After such a wet winter, a bit of sun may sound like no bad thing, but people often underestimate the effect of high temperatures on older people: the 2003 heatwave led to an alarming 22 per cent increase in mortality among people 75+ in England and Wales. So I was very pleased to be invited to a roundtable held by the Parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee, as part of their Inquiry into Heatwaves: Adapting to Climate Change.

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How can we support people with dementia to live well?

PATLWWD cover

Around 850,000 people are estimated to have dementia in the UK, and that figure is expected to rise to 1 million by 2025.

Rising prevalence has led to a number of new initiatives focussing on the condition. In 2015, the Prime Minister’s Challenge on dementia 2020 set out more than 50 commitments with the hope of making England a world leader in dementia care, research and awareness by 2020.

Efforts like this are starting to reap rewards, and there have been recent improvements in the rates of diagnosis and new funds being developed to research the condition.

However, despite these positive steps, we know people with dementia and their carers still find it hard to get good quality care and support or to lead as active a life in the community as they could.

With this in mind, Age UK started looking at what ‘living well’ meant to people with dementia and their carers, and from there we branched out to find an array of services and approaches that could help them achieve this. Our findings are published in a new report, ‘Promising Approaches to Living Well with Dementia.’

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What should we think about ‘the Four Seasons story’?

Like lots of people with an interest in social care I have been following the travails of Four Seasons over the last few days. For anyone not up to speed, Four Seasons is a major care home provider in this country, with some 17,000 predominantly older residents and 25,000 staff. Four Seasons is now reportedly in financial difficulty and the regulator of the social care sector, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), has called for its biggest creditor to confirm that it will stand behind the company and not allow it to collapse. [Although it has since won a reprieve  until April 2018, the uncertainty over its longer-term future continues]. 

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Under pressure – continuing healthcare

Older woman with carer

This blog post was contributed by Angela Kitching, Joint Head of External Affairs at Age UK. 

Staffing the ‘Campaigns’ inbox for Age UK is one of the more challenging tasks for our team. People email us about our campaigns, they tell us what’s wrong with the world, what’s wrong with the Government or the NHS and what we should be doing to sort it out; then we have to respond. Usually, the Monday morning run through of the inbox trying to make sure everyone gets an answer or is directed to the help or advice they need, is quite a task. This Monday was no exception.
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Budget 2017

Phillip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer

This blog post was contributed by Rob Henderson, Public Affairs Manager at Age UK. 

This was a challenging budget for the Chancellor to deliver. Over five months ago, the snap general election changed the political landscape beyond recognition: a very slim majority, a difficult economic outlook and with the shadow of Brexit over everything the government had little wiggle room.

For Age UK the focus for radical policy improvement and investment needed to be on the social care system. The Prime Minister made the case for social care reform in the Conservative party’s manifesto, making a commitment to ‘act where others have failed to lead’ and the Government’s recent announcement that it will release a Green Paper on social care in summer 2018 is welcome news. However, this budget was an opportunity to plug the gap that exists in the system right now, not kick the issue into the long grass.  Continue reading “Budget 2017”

Not an ‘either/or’: Health and Care both urgently need investment in the Budget

Today Simon Stevens, chief executive of the NHS, is reported to be making a call for more funding from the forthcoming Budget, warning that without it the quality of healthcare available to us all is sure to suffer.

His is a call that Age UK supports. The numbers speak for themselves: the NHS is experiencing a degree of sustained belt-tightening that is unprecedented in modern times – this while an ageing population is inevitably increasing the demand for services.

From an Age UK perspective we worry a lot about the impact of this stress in the system on older people, for whom the ability to get the right treatment and support quickly is hugely important – whether it is to help them sustain good health and wellbeing or because they have health and care problems that need to be addressed.  Continue reading “Not an ‘either/or’: Health and Care both urgently need investment in the Budget”

Guest blog: It’s in the bag

Older woman with carer

This guest blog was contributed by the New Care Homes Programme at NHS England.

Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best – and one that’s spreading fast is the hospital red bag.

First conceived by the Sutton Homes of Care vanguard, the red bag – more formally known as the hospital transfer pathway – is having a definite impact.

Care home residents are more than three times as likely to be admitted to hospital as other over 65-year-olds. Visits can be confusing, particularly as eight out of 10 residents live with dementia.

The red bag makes transfers in and out of hospital more streamlined for hospital staff, care homes staff, first responders – and the patient. Continue reading “Guest blog: It’s in the bag”