Implementing John’s Campaign – improving the quality of care and experiences of people with dementia in hospitals

Nicci Gerrard on holiday with her father, John, in Sweden last year.
Nicci Gerrard with her father John, the inspiration behind John’s Campaign

There’s no doubt that a familiar face, like that of a loved one and carer, can really put a person with dementia at ease during a hospital stay. The benefit to patient, family and staff is immeasurable; vital not only to settle the person, but to aid communication and prepare them for diagnostics or treatment, thereby helping professionals carry out their jobs. The carer may also be able to provide vital information and background, or support and stimulate a restless patient as opposed to leaving them confused and bed bound.

John’s Campaign, founded in 2014 by Nicci Gerrard and Julia Jones, calls for an end to restrictive visiting hours in hospitals to enable more people with dementia to benefit from the support of a carer when they need it.

Continue reading “Implementing John’s Campaign – improving the quality of care and experiences of people with dementia in hospitals”

New rules to serve up better food for NHS patients and staff

Spaghetti bolognaiseIn this blog post, Dianne Jeffrey,  Chairman of Age UK and Chair of the Hospital Food Standards Panel, discusses the new mandatory food standards for the NHS.

Continue reading “New rules to serve up better food for NHS patients and staff”

Alcohol misuse amongst older people

Incidents of alcohol-related illness, hospital admissions and mental health disorders have all increased in the older population. Alcohol represents a growing problem for older people, their families and carers and for public services.

The data shows that:

  • It is estimated that over 1.4 million (or over 14 per cent) of older men and women in the UK drink over safe limits
  • People aged over 65+ report the highest rates of drinking alcohol 5 or more days per week
  • In England in 2012/13 there were more admissions to hospital of people aged 65+ for alcohol-related injuries and illness than of 16 to 24 year olds200x160_pint_of_beer_main

Many of the factors that can influence alcohol intake are magnified in later life and mainly stem from social isolation and loneliness, which can be triggered by factors such as a bereavement, retirement or redundancy. Continue reading “Alcohol misuse amongst older people”

Is it not normal to lose weight when you get older?

This blog was contributed by Margit Physant, Project Manager for the Malnutrition Task Force.

The Duchess of Windsor is reported to have said that you can never be too rich or too thin. I don’t know about the first but you can be too thin.

440x210_fruit-shoppingMalnutrition refers to low body weight and/or recent weight loss and it is still with us. It is far more common than most people think. It affects all ages, but older people are particularly at risk and more than a million people over the age of 65 are affected.

It is common but it is not a normal part of ageing and it has serious health consequences.  Malnourished people are more prone to infection and take longer to recover if they get ill. It causes misery to older people and their families and is costly to the health service. Continue reading “Is it not normal to lose weight when you get older?”

Guest blog – Strengthening the Care Bill

This blog was contributed by Baroness Sally Greengross, a crossbench member of the House of Lords. Baroness Greengross is seeking to amend the Care Bill, which is currently being debated in the House of Lords, on the issue of delayed discharge.

The Care Bill that is currently being debated in the House of Lords is a vital part of the changes that are necessary to reform social care in England, by clarifying and bringing up-to-date the legal framework of the care system. A key area that the Bill must address is the delay that those needing social care experience, while waiting for a package of support to be put in place to enable them to leave hospital.

Baroness Greengross
Baroness Greengross

Facing a stay on a hospital ward can be difficult for anyone but for an older person being admitted following a crisis, such as broken hip from a fall at home, it can be particularly upsetting and disruptive.

Recent statistics show that people who experience a delay in accessing social care, go on to wait much longer for a package of support to be put in place compared to when the Government came to power. Someone will now wait an average of 27 days in hospital before a social care package is put together to allow them to go home – 12.8 per cent longer. For those accessing residential care the average wait is 30.3 days. Continue reading “Guest blog – Strengthening the Care Bill”

Guest blog – Mad as hell: Older people must demand a better care experience

This blog was contributed by Dr Nick Goodwin a speaker at Age UK’s annual For Later Life conference. Nick is CEO of the International Foundation for Integrated Care and a Senior Fellow at The King’s Fund, London where he leads their programme of research and analysis for improving and integrating care for older people and those with long-term conditions.

When my elderly father was in hospital recently his experience of an uncoordinated, chaotic and impersonal service was both dispiriting and disturbing to both him and his family. Whilst clinical decision-making was good, and as a result his physical health returned through the miracles of blood transfusions and intravenous antibiotics, the experience undoubtedly took a large piece out of his mental wellbeing and future self-confidence.

The underlying problem was a lack of care co-ordination. The lack of information sharing on diagnosis, procedures, results and next steps led to worried waits about the seriousness of his condition and what, as a family, we needed to put in place for home care support. Different and conflicting advice and feedback from doctors and nurses was unhelpful. The lack of 440x210-woman-in-hospital-bedcommunication between wards, and between nurses on the wards, meant that his medication regime for Parkinson’s was often ignored despite constant reminders. No help was given to support discharge, and no plan put in place. Continue reading “Guest blog – Mad as hell: Older people must demand a better care experience”

Government responds to the Francis Inquiry

The first inquiry into Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust  catalogued extensive examples of neglectful care and appalling patient experiences. Stories of people being ignored, dehydrated, abused were visible signs of an organisation that had forgotten basic principles of care and at worst, wilfully put organisational considerations ahead of patients. Many, if not most, of the patients involved were older people.

The second inquiry reported in February and included 290 recommendations
that could help to avoid the same situation arising again, not just in Staffordshire, but throughout the NHS. You can see what we said about it in our blog. 440x210_care_home

The government yesterday gave its response to the report in a paper titled Patients first and foremost, and there’s much to be positive about in what it says.

The paper outlines changes to how services are regulated, reflecting an on-going review by the health and care regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC). It describes much wider use of expert inspectors in hospitals including members of the public that bring expertise derived from their experience of care. Continue reading “Government responds to the Francis Inquiry”