Care Appointments: Drives to increase the number of people getting an early diagnosis of dementia are "pointless" because there are not adequate support systems in place, leading doctors have said.
Top medics have said they are "frustrated" by a lack of fundamental support for their dementia patients. The push to increase diagnosis numbers mean politicians "appear to be doing something" but they are "missing the point", Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chairman of the British Medical Association's (BMA) general practitioners committee. He said that some people face months of uncertainty as they wait to be seen at a memory clinic. And once they have been diagnosed there is not enough support because of funding cuts to social services, he added. Dr Vautrey (pictured) said: "You would never tolerate it in any other area of medicine. Say you were to diagnose someone with cancer you wouldn't say 'well sorry we're not going to treat your cancer'. You would expect within two weeks to see a specialist, getting investigations while dealing with concerns and worries.
See also: Rush to diagnose dementia is dismissed as pointless (The Times)
Care Home Professional: NHS England has released data showing that there were 19,500 delayed discharges from hospitals in April because people were waiting for care packages to be agreed by care homes or domiciliary care providers.
The number is almost 50% higher than the same month in 2015.
Harold Bodmer, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), said that the squeeze on local authority funding for care is creating a log jam for hospitals that ultimately costs tax payers more money. “The Personal Budgets in Social Care report issued by the Public Accounts Committee highlighted the impact of funding reductions on the care market, and these figures only serve to reinforce these concerns. Despite councils doing everything they can to protect adult social care budgets and look after the needs of their communities, more patients have now experienced a delay in leaving hospital because of social care reasons than in any other month since figures started being collated in this way,” he said.
“The fact that there were 19,500 delayed days in April because people were waiting for care packages in their own home – an increase of almost a half on one year earlier – is a matter of enormous concern. More than three quarters of councils experienced some kind of social care provider failure last year, and as the full impact of the introduction of the National Living Wage is felt, we will only see more services put at risk.
See also: When Hospital Discharge Goes Wrong (Huffington Post)
The BGS publishes powerpoint files supporting presentations at its scientific conferences as secured pdfs. Some files are in MP4 format. We only do this, however, where we have specific authorisation of the presenters. We will continue to post the files up here as authorisations are given and they are processed into secured files. We will be uploading more files over the next week. In the meantime, the following files are made available for download:
Martin Vernon: We've got no beds! Avoiding deaths in urgent care for older people
It is estimated that 85 per cent of older people living with depression do not receive any help from the NHS. In response to these latest figures, older people’s charity, Independent Age have launched a new free information guide to support older people who may be at risk of depression.
The free guide titled: 'Dealing with Depression', contains practical information on what can affect a person’s mental health, when they should see a doctor and where they can go for help, as well as tips and advice on staying well and how to help someone you’re concerned about.
Chief executive of Independent Age, Janet Morrison, commented: “Depression is not a normal part of ageing, and no-one should have to suffer alone if they have concerns about their mental health. There is help available, no matter how long you or an older friend or relative have felt like this. Our new guide, ‘Dealing with Depression’, will help you know where to turn.”
The British Geriatrics Society congratulates Professor David Oliver on being elected Clinical Vice President of the London Royal College of Physicians. We are also pleased to announce the election of Professor Ray Tallis (another prominent member of the BGS) to the London RCP Council.
Professor Oliver will be stepping down as President of the British Geriatrics Society in November. He will be passing the Chain of Office to the President Elect, Dr Eileen Burns. Please cast your vote for one of three candidates standing for the President Elect Office - Prof Tahir Masud, Prof Stuart Parker and Dr Zoe Wyrko. Their manifestos are published here and you may proceed directly to the online voting facility here.
Aging: Memory loss in Alzheimer's patients has been reversed with a tailor-made combination of diet, medication and and lifestyle changes, scientists claim.
A small USA study of 10 patients found they all showed improvements in their memories within the first few months - and increasingly so over a two-year period, for some. Some patients taking part had stopped working, or been struggling with their jobs at the time they joined the study. All have since been able to return to their jobs or continue working, with improved performance.
The findings, published in the journal Aging, claim to be the first to suggest memory loss in patients can be reversed, and improvement sustained. The treatment involved a complex, 36-point therapeutic programme, combining comprehensive diet changes, brain stimulation, exercise, sleep optimisation, specific drugs and vitamins, and other steps affecting brain chemistry.
Home BT: Age UK said around half a million men over the age of 65 in England who have a long-term health problem are lonely, and this is only set to get worse as people live longer. It is calling on the Government to recognise loneliness and isolation in later life as a serious health problem, and says action is needed to counteract it.
As well as the impact on mental health, loneliness is linked to an increased risk of conditions such as dementia, high blood pressure and depression. Age UK argued that several reasons are contributing to high numbers of men feeling lonely, including families living away, hectic lives and more use of technology, which may make older people feel left behind.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: "Loneliness is a widespread problem among older men, especially for those who are unwell, bereaved or who have seen family and friends move away.
Guardian: Millions of people will receive devices and apps free on the NHS to help them manage conditions such as diabetes and heart disease in an major drive to use technology to reduce patient deaths.
NHS England’s chief executive, Simon Stevens, has backed the move as a significant expansion of self-care that could help prevent patients becoming seriously unwell and needing hospital treatment.
The devices, which can be strapped to the back of a smartphone, will be able to help patients detect and monitor atrial fibrillation. About 2.5 million people have the condition, which causes around 25,000 of the 110,000 strokes that occur annually and costs the NHS more than £2.2bn a year to treat. AliveCor, a mobile heart monitor, could help to prevent hospital admission and even death, while saving the NHS money by reducing the need for expensive treatment.
The NHS is already issuing patients in Portsmouth who have life-threatening breathing trouble with an app called MyCOPD. It helps those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, such as emphysema and bronchitis, to manage their condition on their smartphone or tablet. It advises them when to take their medication and how to do exercises that reduce the risk of them suffering an exacerbation of their illness, which could prove fatal.
Guardian: American healthcare expert speaks highly of ‘vanguard sites’ – but says change could take some time.
As the financial crisis mounts and performance deteriorates, renowned American healthcare expert Don Berwick says he has a “high and growing” confidence in the ability of the NHS to find a way through, with staff determined to change the way they deliver care – but central interference could wreck ambitions. Mr Berwick built an international reputation as president and chief executive of the US-based Institute for Healthcare Improvement, bringing a scientific approach to the quality, safety and cost of healthcare systems. His latest role is working with NHS England and the King’s Fund to support the “vanguard sites” developing the new care models outlined in the Five Year Forward View.
Instinctively optimistic, Mr Berwick describes the vanguard progress as “stunning”. His upbeat assessment is based on the determination he sees in the workforce: “You might expect local staff to say ‘leave me alone, I’m trying to get through the day, how can I possibly reinvent care at the same time?’. But exactly the opposite is going on. The spirit, the determination, the soulfulness, is really deep. I’m sure internally they are meeting some resistance – not everyone wants to change – but it’s real.”
Guardian: The all-party parliamentary Group (APPG) on housing and care for older people has called for the government to turn its attention to promoting new housebuilding for older people. As well as starter homes, the UK needs “later homes”. Not least because those who “right-size” – move into the right-sized property for their household’s needs – free up family homes for the next generation. Building homes that are tailor-made for older people – easy to manage, with space and light, fully accessible and in the right location – meets the requirements of two households, one older, one younger.
A report, Housing our ageing population: positive ideas compiled by the Housing Learning and Improvement Network – points out that the government gets multiple benefits from enabling older people to enjoy better health and wellbeing in new homes. These include significant savings in NHS and social care spending. And those who have moved into age-exclusive, attractive new homes talk not just of the savings in outgoings – and often the release of cash to spend on other things – but the social life that banishes loneliness too.
So why is the UK so different from the US and most other European countries in terms of its housing output for those of us in our extended middle age? Why are we averse to moving until a health crisis forces us out when an earlier move could ensure our independence, in a place of our choosing, for the rest of our days?