The British Geriatrics Society (BGS) calls for everyone who commissions or provides healthcare in care homes to follow the principles of good practice set out in the guidance we are publishing today, so that every older person who lives in a care home in the UK has access to high quality healthcare which fully meets their needs. Based on the clinical expertise of our members our updated guidance sets out clinical and service priorities for how best practice can be achieved, and provides clear indicators of what successful delivery looks like for older people, their families and carers.
In the UK 405,000 people over the age of 65 years old currently live in care homes. This represents 16% of older people over the age of 85. Their healthcare needs are complex and the average care home resident has multiple long-term conditions, and frailty. They are likely to have better health outcomes if health services reflect these needs, and they have access to comprehensive, multidisciplinary assessment, with input from healthcare specialists trained in the care of complex medical problems in later life.
‘Guidance on commissioning and providing healthcare services across the UK; Effective healthcare for older people living in care homes’ provides short accessible guidance that highlights the benefits for older people themselves, for the local NHS and for local care homes as a result of having appropriate services in place. It describes the activities that will enable these outcomes to be achieved, and includes suggestions for how services can be monitored and evaluated to see if they are having a positive impact.
In her first statement since taking office a week ago, BGS’s new President Dr Eileen Burns said:
“Why should a frail or disabled older person living in a care home be disadvantaged by healthcare that isn’t based on their own individual needs?
It is of the utmost importance that the healthcare needs of older people living in care homes are treated as high priority. The NHS has a vital role to play in ensuring that older care home residents have a better quality of life. We know that health care services can be designed to deliver better healthcare. We call on those responsible for planning health services locally to follow this guidance to ensure that they are not ignoring the needs and rights of older people, and are designing appropriate and sustainable services.
The health needs of older people living in care homes are complex. It is vital that NHS commissioners and policy makers recognise that input from appropriately trained specialists is key to ensuring a better quality of life for older people living in care homes.”