The part I enjoy most about being a BGS member is being on a mission. Our patients are often let down by modern medicine because their problems are “too difficult”. I go to work energised by the knowledge that we can do better. To be a BGS member is to believe that older people with frailty deserve more, and that careful application of knowledge, skill and evidence-based healthcare can change lives.
Multidisciplinary teams in care of older people have transformed care across the NHS, and new opportunities to extend our models of working emerge weekly. We must seek every opportunity to do more for our patients, yet each new service development runs the risk that we overstretch our members. Good care for older adults should be everybody’s business. The BGS must work with Medical Royal Colleges, and national bodies for nursing and the allied health professions, to ensure that all specialties and disciplines, in all parts of the NHS, are ready to support older people with frailty.
Discussions around developing rehabilitation services post-COVID have reinforced the arbitrary time-delimited nature of much NHS rehabilitation. The BGS should campaign to ensure that older people can access rehabilitation services based upon evidence of what works and challenge engrained assumptions about what the NHS is prepared to afford.
Care homes have been thrust into the limelight during the pandemic, leading to wide acknowledgement that the sector needs reform. The BGS has an important role to play in shaping what medical care should look like in care homes, including working to define core competencies in care home medicine.
The rush to research during COVID-19 has confirmed, again, that many researchers are happy to exclude older people from their work. The BGS must campaign for inclusion of older people, and the expert professionals who care for them, in planning and conduct of research.
Almost half of BGS members are from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds. BAME colleagues face unacceptable structural barriers in their daily work. These barriers may have contributed to the exposure and subsequent deaths of valued friends and colleagues during COVID-19. This cannot continue. The BGS must be a voice against structural racism in healthcare. We should develop a specific policy about how we will advocate on behalf of BAME members.
For the BGS to do all this, we need to harness the full expertise and credibility that comes from our multidisciplinary membership. We also need a President with broad experience and credibility. I have clinical expertise in hospitals and the community. I have educational expertise, having developed and published curricula in undergraduate geriatric medicine, leadership, and care home nursing. As Vice President for Academic Affairs, I have built links with partners to campaign for more, and better, research for older people. I have a strong track record in working with care homes and was lead author of the BGS Care Home Commissioning Guidance and BGS Guidance for COVID-19 in Care Homes. Together we can do this. It would be a privilege to lead.