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About the BGS

The British Geriatrics Society is the professional body of specialist doctors, nurses, therapists and other professionals concerned with the health care of older people in the United Kingdom.

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Vacancy: BGS Officers

The BGS is inviting expressions of interest from BGS members to fill the vacancies of Deputy Media Digital Media Editor (deadline for applications Friday 6 April, midnight) and Vice President for Academic Affairs (deadline for applications, Friday, 20 April, midnight). For background and person specifications, click the link of the position which interests you (downloadable in pdf format).

2018 Spring Meeting

Registration now open

Abstract submissions: Research abstracts are automatically accepted. Clinical Quality abstracts are adjudicated. Results available here on 5 March

Clinical Excellence Awards 2018

The next round of clinical excellence awards opens on the 13 February 2018.

All candidates seeking the support of the BGS are asked to complete the appropriate form(s) and submit these to the Society by 5.00 p.m. on Tuesday 6 March 2018. This is a finite deadline and we will be unable to accept forms after this date.

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BGS Staff Vacancy

The BGS is inviting applications to fill its vacancy for a Membership Administrator. Interviews will be held on 29 March. The closing date for applications is 19th March. Click here for details.

Survey finds little focus on using telecare to promote social contact and alleviate loneliness

Reported by Community Care (16 February 2018): What new research tells us about telecare use in English local authorities

Telecare doesn’t produce better outcomes for people who use it. This stark message was the finding of a large, Department of Health funded clinical trial, known as the ‘Whole System Demonstrator’ project (WSD), which concluded several years ago. But, despite this finding, and the adult social care spending cuts which continue to this day, local authorities have not scaled back investment in telecare.

The UTOPIA (Using Telecare for Older People In Adult social care) project, led by staff from the Social Care Workforce Research Unit at King’s College London, has produced new findings about why and how telecare is used for older people. They raise the possibility that it might not have been telecare itself but the ways it was used that led to the WSD findings. The study also suggests that given the strategic importance many councils now place on telecare, the infrastructure needed to implement it effectively may not be as robust as needed. The study involved a survey of all 152 English local authorities with social care responsibilities between November 2016 and January 2017 with a response rate of 75%. Key findings found that only a minority of local authorities said their telecare strategies had been produced collaboratively with local NHS or other partners and in most, telecare did not seem to be referenced within their carers’ strategy.

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King's Fund: Approaches to social care funding

It is widely accepted that the system for funding social care is in urgent need of reform. Faced with shrinking budgets, local authorities are struggling to meet the growing demand for care, linked to increasing complexity in need and an ageing population. As a result, the number of older people receiving publicly funded social care has declined. While in practice, much of this shortfall has been met by private spending and informal care; it is also likely that many people’s care needs are going unmet.

There is little sign of a long-term solution on the horizon. For those who have watched the progress of the social care system over the years, this is a familiar disappointment. Since 1998, there have been 12 green papers, white papers and other consultations, as well as five independent commissions, all attempting to grapple with the problem of securing a sustainable social care system. It has been called ‘one of the greatest unresolved public policy issues of our time’.

Against this background, the Health Foundation and The King’s Fund are undertaking work exploring options for the future funding of social care. This paper considers the following approaches to funding social care for older people in England:

  • Improving the current system
  • The Conservative Party’s proposals at the time of the 2017 general election (a revised means test and a cap on care costs)
  • A single budget for health and social care
  • Free personal care
  • A hypothecated tax for social care

Falls prevention: cost-effective commissioning

The return on investment tool, to which Dr Vicki Goodwin contributed, has now been published by Public Health England and pulls together evidence on the effectiveness and associated costs for interventions aimed at preventing falls in older people living in the community. The flexible Excel sheet allows for results to be tailored to the local situation based on the knowledge of the user. All interventions are aimed at those aged 65 and over.

The tool comes with an accompanying report, which details how the tool was constructed and presents the main results.

The second report summarises the findings from a literature review carried out to identify cost-effective interventions.

Local authorities and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) can use results from the tool to protect and improve the health of their local populations when making commissioning decisions.

Safe care for adults with complex health needs - survey

Imperial College London have set up a Priority Setting Partnership (PSP) with the James Lind Alliance to prioritise research into safe care for adults with complex health needs. They define adults with complex health needs as those who have more than one illness/disease/condition/disability or those who need care in more than one setting. For example, these people might have both diabetes and depression and/or need care from some of these different services: primary care (e.g. GPs), secondary care (e.g. hospitals), community health services, mental health services, or social care (e.g. care at home or in a care/nursing home).

Using a survey, ICL are asking patients, carers, the public and healthcare staff for their concerns and questions they would like to see answered about safe care for adults with complex health needs.

New Alzheimer's drug offers hope for end to 'terrifying' psychosis affecting half of all patients

Reported in The Telegraph (13 February 2018): A new drug promises to spare hundreds of thousands of Alzheimer’s sufferers from “terrifying” hallucinations and paranoia, researchers have announced.

Scientists have successfully tested the first medicine capable of treating psychosis, which affects around half of patients with the disease, without the devastating side-effects caused by current drugs. Published in the Lancet Neurology, the trial of pimavanserin offers particular hope to those with advanced psychosis, which doctors often describe as the most distressing symptom of Alzheimer’s.

Currently people with dementia rely on mainstream antipsychotics, however these can double the speed at which brain function deteriorates, increase the risk of falls and lead to sedation. Figures indicate they also cause 1,660 unnecessary strokes and 1,800 unnecessary deaths in the UK every year. By contrast, pimavanserin, which targets a specific nerve receptor in the brain, was shown to significantly improve psychosis symptoms without the normal side-effects. 

Researchers at the University of Exeter Medical School tested the drug on 90 patients with Alzheimer’s disease, giving a placebo to a further 90.

The retirement housing market has begun to mature

Reported by Property Week (13 February 2018): There is now some long overdue traction in the retirement housing sector.

The clutch of deals seen in 2017 including Inspired Villages and Renaissance being acquired by L&G, AXA’s acquisition of Retirement Villages and Audley’s move into Clapham in central London have all made headlines in the property sector.

The narrative is changing too. Everyone now understands the demographic trends that are set to drive growth in the sector, and that there is a cast-iron case for building the homes of the highest possible standard. We are now seeing a more in-depth approach on delivery: investors looking at different products, tenure mixes, and carrying out a thorough assessment across all sectors of the market. This will inevitably result in a more diversified offering. Inevitably, as with any industry, there are lessons to be learned on the way – from how to get the right balance of care and lifestyle in a scheme to how to respond to the micro-markets of within specific localities.

Looking for a BGS representative for the AFN

The BGS is a strong supporter of the Acute Frailty Network, which aims to support people with frailty and urgent care needs to get home sooner and safer.

We need to find a BGS member who would like to join the Programme Board as BGS's representative. The Board meets 2 - 3 times a year, usually virtually. 

If you would like to express your interest in becoming the BGS rep, please email me your CV by 5pm on 28 February. Please include a para or two in your email to explain why you're interested. My email address is

BMA Patient Information Awards - closing date 28 February

The BMA patient information awards (PIA) were established in 1997 to encourage excellence in the production and dissemination of accessible, well-designed and clinically balanced patient information.

These awards aim to reinforce the BMA's commitment to support good educational practice and acknowledge new approaches and technologies intended for the public audience.

Entry to the 2018 Awards is open until 28 February 2018.

Organisations who would like to enter the Awards for next year should contact Richard Jones in the BMA Library on for further advice.

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Nursing course applications fall for second year after student bursary scrapped

Reported by the Independent (5 February 2018): Student loan write-offs and other incentives urgently needed to prevent 'unimaginable problems' caused by the removal of nursing bursary, leaders warn.

Applications to study nursing in England have fallen for a second year, dropping by a third since the Government removed bursaries in 2017 requiring nurses and midwives to pay £9,000 a year in fees. Ucas figures for the first wave of applicants hoping to start university courses in September 2018 show that the number of students wanting to study NHS nursing have again fallen sharply, by 13 per cent on last year.

This is despite the Government dropping the bursary so that more nurses could be trained, as places were previously capped by what the NHS could afford. Nursing bosses said this ambition has failed and some form of incentive, such as student loan write-offs for nurses who are trained and work in the NHS, is urgently needed to avert “unimaginable problems” in the future.

Trainees' weekend 2018 - Powerpoints

The powerpoint files supporting presentations at the BGS Trainees 2018 weekend are now available for download. We publish only those files which have been authorised for publication by the authors. The files are published in secured pdf format to obviate plagiarism as far as this is possible. (updated 19 February 2018).

Sally Briggs: What are we looking for in a new appointment? (19 Feb 2018)

Rachel Binks: Telemedicine, the new frontier 

Chris Douglass: Stroke Mimics

Matt Jones: The medical memory clinic and atypical dementias

Emma Pickavance and Raj Parikh: Osteoporosis 

David Riding: How to manage leg ulcers in the elderly 

Mini Singh: Approaches to skin problems

Sandy Thomson: SCE in Geriatric Medicine: Friend or Foe

Scotland launches new dental plan for the elderly

Reported in The National (25 January 2018): HAVING dentists treat elderly people in their own homes forms part of the new Scottish Government strategy on dental health.

The Oral Health Improvement Plan includes a series of recommendations to reduce health inequalities and prevent poor dental health.

As well as having dentists treat people cared for in their own homes, the plan recommends having care home visits from dental practitioners.

The government has pledged to set up a £500,000 community challenge fund in the next financial year which organisations can bid for to help improve oral health in deprived communities.

Recent statistics show the number of Scots registered with a dentist rose by 95 per cent in the past decade to five million but those living in the poorest areas are less likely to have visited in the previous 24 months.

Launching the plan, Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “Record numbers of Scots have access to NHS dentists, and as a nation our oral health is improving. But poor oral health is entirely preventable and we need to ensure we do all we can to tackle it, and break the link between oral health and deprivation.

“The Oral Health Improvement Plan will support the profession to spend more time on what they do best.”

Afraid of Falling? For Older Adults, the Dutch Have a Cure

Reported in the New York Times (2 January 2018):  — The shouts of schoolchildren playing outside echoed through the gymnasium where an obstacle course was being set up.

There was the “Belgian sidewalk,” a wooden contraption designed to simulate loose tiles; a “sloping slope,” ramps angled at an ankle-unfriendly 45 degrees; and others like “the slalom” and “the pirouette.”

They were not for the children, though, but for a class where the students ranged in age from 65 to 94. The obstacle course was clinically devised to teach them how to navigate treacherous ground without having to worry about falling, and how to fall if they did.

“It’s not a bad thing to be afraid of falling, but it puts you at higher risk of falling,” said Diedeke van Wijk, a physiotherapist who runs WIJKfysio and teaches the course three times a year in Leusden, a bedroom community just outside Amersfoort, in the center of the country.

The Dutch, like many elsewhere, are living longer than in previous generations, often alone. As they do, courses that teach them not only how to avoid falling, but how to fall correctly, are gaining popularity.

“It’s not a bad thing to be afraid of falling, but it puts you at higher risk of falling,” said Diedeke van Wijk, a physiotherapist who runs WIJKfysio and teaches the course three times a year in Leusden, a bedroom community just outside Amersfoort, in the center of the country.

The Dutch, like many elsewhere, are living longer than in previous generations, often alone. As they do, courses that teach them not only how to avoid falling, but how to fall correctly, are gaining popularity.

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