Welcome to our first newsletter of 2017, following a year of many ups and downs!
Most of us faced financial challenges and despite rising demand for our services we find ourselves ever more stretched. I say this as one who recently lost a local service; there is no doubt that even tougher times are ahead. The BGS continues to advocate for older people in this climate: take a look at the first press release from President Eileen Burns, on delayed transfers of care. The person at the centre of this situation must not be blamed and Dr Burns calls on the government to understand this and ensure that social care is adequately funded.
With the pressure to reduce costs, comes an increasing drive to keep people out of the acute hospital. There is opportunity here to develop new community services such as Hospital at Home, but do these really work and if so, how?
This was the focus of the first ever UK-wide Hospital at Home forum at the BGS Autumn Meeting in Glasgow in November. Delegates heard about many new services that provided real patient-centred care in their own home. One of these, the REACT service, receives an in-depth introduction in this issue. See here for a fascinating insight by Scotland’s first community geriatrician, Dr Sureshini Sanders from West Lothian.
Sarcopenia Special Interest Group
In another first, the BGS announced the formation of a new special interest group (SIG) for frailty and sarcopenia at the autumn meeting. Those who were lucky enough to attend this session received a comprehensive update; if you missed out you can find out more about the SIG and joining it, on our website.
Dealing with the sensitive topic of substance abuse, Dr Anita Howard and Dr Sharmi Bhattacharrya, editors of the RCPsych’s newsletter, report on the growing prevalence of older patients presenting with signs of alcohol or substance addiction. They identify the different patterns of misuse and point to the dearth of research into substance misuse in older people. This represents a potentially rich vein for some enterprising researchers to tap.
If you’ve visited the blog recently, you’ll see our new logo adorning the top; there was lot of positive feedback in Glasgow when the smart new visual appeared. There remains a certain fondness for the old logo in some quarters but I’m sure that a fresh new visual identity should help to enhance the image of the BGS.
Improving the image of nursing homes is an area that Jo Hockley writes about here, describing the idea of a care home innovation centre of excellence. In reflecting on what a dream care home would look like, her group has uncovered several intriguing ideas. For example, did you know that one care home organisation in the Netherlands provides free accommodation for students in return for working with the care home residents? More can be found in their commentary piece in Age and Ageing.
Another article from the journal describes a large population analysis which notes that people with dementia have a higher number of co-morbid conditions. The authors call for holistic care, as opposed to focusing on single organs. This message is echoed by Dr David Paynton in his comments on a new report written in collaboration with the Royal College of General Practitioners. As he puts it, “Multi-morbidity is here to stay – the rest of the NHS needs to catch up.”
Those who make a difference
Another theme that runs through this issue of the newsletter is the recognition of individuals who have made and continue to make a difference to the lives of older people. Apart from three members of the BGS who were recognised in the Queen’s Honours List recently, the Society acknowledges the work of Susan Stefiuk, a co-ordinator of Age UK’s Friendship and Wellbeing Service, and Northern Ireland’s Pat McCaffrey.
BGS Honorary Secretary and Editor