Guest blog: Time is now for people powered dementia care

This guest post was contributed by Ewan King, director of business development and delivery, at the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE).

“I am doing something worthwhile. I am earning my bread again”. This is what Brian, who has dementia, said about how his life has changed for the better as a result of directly shaping the care that he and others receive. He is not alone in benefiting from being involved in decisions about care.

In England, it is estimated that around 676,000 people have dementia. This number is expected to grow over the coming years. And this comes at a time when there are severe cuts in budgets, particularly in social care. So what can public services do when more traditional solutions – such as recruiting more staff or expanding services – are not open to them? Whilst at the same time we know that people with dementia – and their carers – need person-centred holistic care and support, including high quality social care. Continue reading “Guest blog: Time is now for people powered dementia care”

Challenging assumptions of health and ageing

The recent publication of the latest ONS figures on average life expectancy have become familiar reading. How long you are likely to live is still heavily dependent on where in the country you live. A woman who is 65 living in Kensington and Chelsea can reasonably expect to live another 25 years, while a woman of the same age in Manchester can expect just under 19.

Without some recognition of the variability of ageing, we risk continuing the characterisation of health and wellbeing in later life as a rapid downward spiral. This underpins the many statements about the “burden” of an ageing society, or the pressure that older people place on essential services. Continue reading “Challenging assumptions of health and ageing”

A great place to grow older?

Today, we launched our Agenda for Later Life 2015 report, Age UK’s annual assessment of how public policy is meeting the needs of older people. Here, Jane Vass, Head of Public Policy, discuss the findings of the report in light of the upcoming Spending Review. 

In the run up to what is likely to be one of the most challenging Spending Reviews of recent times, Agenda for Later Life, Age UK’s annual audit of how public policy is meeting the needs of our ageing population, highlights that older people are increasingly being thrown back on their own resources, as the public services on which they rely are being scaled back or withdrawn.

Each year, we track a number of key indicators, and this year shows progress in many areas but also the scale of the challenge facing us. Continue reading “A great place to grow older?”

Launch of Age UK report on Health and care of older people in England

Today, Age UK launches ‘The health and care of older people in England 2015’ report, that analyses the degree to which the needs of older people are being met by health and care services. Jill Mortimer, Policy Adviser at Age UK , looks at the findings of the report. 

What’s really happening in health and social care services? Over the years, in our Care in Crisis series we documented the devastating budget cuts that meant fewer and fewer people were getting public support for help with their day to day activities.

Trends in the NHS

But what about the NHS? Hasn’t it been protected through the last five years of cuts in public services? If so, what lay behind last year’s winter crisis? And why is Monitor, the health services financial regulator, now talking about the ‘worst financial crisis in a generation’?

These are the kinds of questions people are now asking and in our new report we try to answer them. We have updated our usual annual analysis of trends in social care and added analysis of trends in the NHS. We present the most authoritative and up to date facts and figures to understand older people’s health and care needs and the extent to which these are being met by our health and care systems. Continue reading “Launch of Age UK report on Health and care of older people in England”

Guest blog: A practical guide to healthy ageing

 

Healthy ageing guide
The latest edition of a ‘Practical guide to healthy ageing’

Katie Walkin is a Business Manager in the long-term conditions team at NHS England. Katie recently joined Age UK on a short-term secondment, bringing her experience and insights from working with the NHS to Age UK’s health policy programme. In this blog, Katie writes about her experiences in producing two editions of a ‘Practical Guide to Healthy Ageing’.

Being able to stay healthy in later life is a crucial issue for all of us. We know that older people often do not feel supported to look after their own health, particularly people with multiple long term conditions, including frailty. This has a detrimental impact on their quality of life and health outcomes.

NHS England recognised there were lots of very good detailed individual guides to support older people look after their health, but there wasn’t always a single place for people to go.  Improving older people’s care is increasingly a priority for the NHS, so my team set out to produce such a guide, working with the National Clinical Director for Frailty and Age UK.

We set out to produce a readable and practical guide that helped people to stay physically and mentally well by providing hints and tips on how to keep fit and independent. It recognised, as we all should, that there is always something we can do to improve our health and wellbeing. For older people who may be starting to find things more difficult to do, it is particularly important to take active steps to slow down or reverse some of the health challenges we are all likely to face. Continue reading “Guest blog: A practical guide to healthy ageing”

Guest blog: Changing the way health and care is delivered

Older people chatting

This is the first in a series of blogs on Age UK’s Integrated Care Programme. Here Kelly from Age UK’s ‘Living Well’ integrated care service in Portsmouth talks about the difference it’s making to older people’s lives.

A new service is changing the way health and care is delivered in Portsmouth.

‘Living Well’ is an integrated care service which sees Age UK Portsmouth working with the NHS Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group, Portsmouth City Council, Solent NHS Trust and Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust. Together our aim is to support older people to lead a more fulfilling life.

The service is targeted at people over the age of 50 with multiple long-term health conditions who have found themselves going in and out of hospital.

We have a great team here working on the service, full of staff and volunteers who want to enable some of the most vulnerable people to become more independent and fulfil their goals in life. We have already had some amazing successes with the people we have worked alongside so far. Continue reading “Guest blog: Changing the way health and care is delivered”

How should we talk about ‘frailty’?

Scene from a care home

In health care, the word ‘frailty’ carries a lot of baggage. In its most positive sense, it is a phrase used by older people’s specialists to describe a particular state of health, usually characterised by multiple or complex physical and mental health and social needs.

This can then be a gateway to proactive care and support joined-up around the individual.

At the less positive end, it is a shorthand for older people in later old age, with multiple long-term conditions that are almost too difficult to manage. In this case the so-called ‘frail elderly’ may be recognised for having high needs but thought of as almost beyond help and given little support.

It is well known that older people do not identify with the word ‘frailty’. This was a strong finding from research we carried out in 2013.

However, we wanted to understand in more detail how older people felt about being referred to as “frail” and whether or not this could impact on their engagement with services. Continue reading “How should we talk about ‘frailty’?”