A renewed NHS will help tackle the health needs of today

A guest blog from Professor Stephen Powis, NHS England Medical Director, on the innovative ways the NHS is adapting to an ageing society and more people living with multiple and long-term conditions.      

The creation of the National Health Service seven decades ago was indisputably one of the greatest social advances of the last century.

For the first time in our history, it replaced public fears about the affordability of healthcare with a service based on equity.

The Prime Minister Theresa May was absolutely right to commit last week to increased long-term funding.

The NHS’s biggest task this century must be to adapt to profound shifts in the patterns of ill-health.

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Tackling malnutrition in our communities

Carers and Residents at Millbrook care home shot for Age UK Training

This week is Nutrition and Hydration Week, an excellent campaign which celebrates food and drink as a way of maintaining health and wellbeing. As part of the Week, the Malnutrition Task Force have written a guest blog looking at malnutrition among older people in the community and highlighting wonderful examples of initiatives that can help tackle this.  

Food is a marvellous thing. Breathing in the scent of our favourite meal and savouring the taste as we eat and enjoy it are two of life’s great pleasures.

Food gives us the energy to keep active, stay mentally alert, and remain physically well, which means fewer visits to the doctors.

Keeping well-nourished and hydrated is so important to each and everyone one of us at every stage of our lives, particularly as we get older.

However, sadly, not everyone is so favoured. Latest estimates show up to 1.3 million of our older friends, relatives and neighbours are malnourished or at risk.

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The Queen’s Speech – will social care be included?

Photo by Michael Garnett licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic.

At Age UK we will be listening very carefully to the Queen’s Speech to see if social care is mentioned and, if it is, what precisely is said. We sincerely hope that an intention to bring forward proposals for consultation will be stated, signifying that this new Government intends to press on with the Green Paper that was already underway before the General Election campaign began.

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Finally a focus on social care…?

440x210_care_home

As a Surrey resident working for Age UK, I felt quite confused and conflicted about how to vote in the prospective local referendum on a 15% council tax rise. On one hand, I really wasn’t happy about a huge hike in my bills but on the other hand through my work I am acutely aware of the enormous funding gap that has opened up in recent years between social care budgets and the growing number of people needing care and support. I felt grudgingly supportive of the leader of Surrey Council, David Hodge’s radical stance but not desperately keen on his solution.

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Increasing pharmacists’ support of older people

John photographed at his home for the new 'Lets Talk Money' influencing campaign. Chadwell Heath, Dagenham.In this guest blog post, Ash Soni, President of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, writes about how pharmacists are making sure that older people are taking the right medicines in the right way.

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Meeting our Age Champion MPs

Age UK campaigner Joan Manning receives a bunch of flowers from the Speaker of the House of Commons.

Today’s blog is about Age UK’s recent parliamentary reception to celebrate the commitment of our Age Champion MPs. Pictured is Age UK campaigner Joan, receiving flowers from the Speaker of the House of Commons in thanks for her speech.

On Monday 6th July, Age UK were delighted to host a Reception in the Speaker’s House with a number of our dedicated older campaigners and Parliamentarians. The event was an opportunity for MPs to speak with older people and representatives from Age UK about the issues affecting people in later life, and what the government and communities can do today and tomorrow to make the UK and their constituencies a better place to grow older.

Age UK campaigner Joan Manning gave a moving speech about her personal experience caring for her husband. She explained:

‘I have been lucky. My husband Geoffrey was a very gracious and accommodating patient. He was not aggressive. He was funny and made jokes until the day he died. I was lucky: He did not die of Alzheimer’s.  He was ‘saved’ by his cancer. Geoffrey was eventually assessed as being unwell enough to qualify for care. Unable to get out of bed, stand or communicate, with diffuse cancer and in the depths of dementia.  This was 3 days before he died. Yes – I was lucky.’

 

Age Champions

The reception was also an opportunity for us to talk about what it means to be an ‘Age Champion’; a pledge that over 80 MPs signed up to during our General Election campaign. By signing up to be an Age Champion, MPs will work with Age UK on issues being faced by many people in later life including:

– The need to end the crisis in social care, with over 1 million older people who have difficulty with basic tasks such as getting out of bed, washing, and dressing receive no help or support.

– The urgent need for better housing and warm homes in winter. In 2012 there were over 600,000 older households living in fuel poverty.

– Loneliness and isolation, with around 1 million older people regularly going an entire month without speaking to anyone

The event was a huge success and a fantastic opportunity for us and our campaigners to meet our Age Champions and discuss our ambitions for later life.

For more information about our work with parliamentarians head to our Politics and Government website pages. You can also follow our public affairs and campaigning work, and see photos from the reception, on Twitter: @ageukcampaigns.

How do we make prevention real?

 Leslie, 95, and his granddaughter Wendy.

Two weeks ago, despite it being one of the first warm evenings of the year, a sizeable crowd gathered for the most recent in our series of Tavistock Square Debates tackling the big issues across health and care for older people.  And this debate posed one of the toughest questions yet: “How do we make prevention real?”

Whether we are talking about preventing ill health in the first place or helping people stay well and manage a condition, we all agree prevention is better than cure. Likewise there is little argument that we should aim to prevent a crisis wherever possible.

However, in practice the case for investment and shifting resources ‘upstream’ is not always easy to make. In the light of the renewed emphasis on preventive approaches set out in the NHS Forward View and the Care Act, we asked our expert panel their views on what it would really take to break the cycle of short term targets and siloed budgets; to move from words to action.

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