The British Geriatrics Society calls for all healthcare professionals to learn from the Gosport Inquiry to help prevent future tragedies

The British Geriatrics Society is calling all healthcare professionals to review the Gosport Independent Panel Report, and to learn from these shocking events which led to the deaths of over 450 patients who were given opiate painkillers “without medical justification” from 1989 to 2000 at Gosport War Memorial Hospital in Hampshire.

The Inquiry found there was a “disregard for human life” and an “institutionalised practice of shortening lives” at the hospital. In response to the Inquiry’s findings the Society is also calling for increased knowledge of best practice and clinical guidelines, especially in relation to prescribing and pain management in older people. The Society fully supports the families’ ongoing quest for truth and accountability. Continue reading

BGS Management and Leadership Weekend: ‘LITTLE SPARKS’ to ‘BIG BANGS’

Barry Evans has been a specialty registrar in geriatric and general internal medicine since 2014. He has an interest in innovative models of care and that improve the health and quality of life of older people and QI Projects which improve the working lives of doctors in training. Here he discusses the Trainees’ Leadership and Management Weekend. He tweets @barryjames86 

Having commenced training in geriatric medicine in 2014, I’m often surprised by the speed at which my training has gone. If the last couple of winters in the NHS are anything to go by, there is no shortage of experience in clinical work for trainees in geriatric or internal/acute medicine, and despite the recently promised ‘cash injection’ for the NHS, there is unlikely to be a shortage of clinical work soon!

This clinical work allows us to see the entirety of the older person’s care journey, as geriatricians work in the community, in A&E, in acute medicine, on wards (medical and surgical!), and in intermediate care/rehabilitation – to name just a few. Continue reading

The British Geriatrics Society welcomes £20 million investment to help tackle loneliness

The British Geriatrics Society welcomes yesterday’s joint statement by the Prime Minister’s Office and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport announcing that charities and community groups will get £20 million of new funding to help people experiencing social isolation and loneliness.

Healthcare professionals now recognise loneliness as a ‘public health epidemic’ with evidence to suggest it is as bad for health outcomes as smoking 15 cigarettes a day[i]. Older people are one of the groups most at risk. In the UK, over 1 million older adults admit they feel lonely often or all the time[ii], a number set to increase given the changing demography. Continue reading

We need to talk about loneliness

Dr Shibley Rahman is an academic physician interested mainly in dementia and frailty. He tweets at @dr_shibley

This was my first ever BGS conference, just down the road from me, at the Wellcome Collection, London. The day was spent discussing ‘Loneliness in older people and its impact on health’ chaired by Professor Tahir Masud (@TashMasud), President-Elect of the British Geriatrics Society.

In a recent paper by Utz and colleagues (2014), the following is offered:

The term loneliness is often equated with social isolation or social participation. However, seminal work attempted to distinguish loneliness from these constructs by defining it as the cognitive or psychological appraisal of social relationships and activities. For example, loneliness has been conceptualized as the lack of “meaningful” social relationships or “incongruence” between actual and desired levels of social interaction.” Continue reading

It’s time to BREAKDOWN these BAME BARRIERS

Dr Gaggandeep Singh Alg is currently a Consultant (AUC) Physician and Geriatrician working at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, UK. He is active in charity work supporting the most vulnerable in society and has an interest in equality and diversity. Twitter Handle @DrGSAlg

How often do we hear about the rapidly growing population of older people? Yes, we hear about it almost every day. But who are these older patients? Where are they originally from? What is their cultural and religious background? No one seems to be talking about that!

In the last 8 years while doing charity work in my free time I have noticed a growth in the older population from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups. Older people from BAME backgrounds suffer from the same illnesses our other patients suffer from. However, in my experience they do not always know when and how to seek help. They have cultural, religious and language barriers which may prevent them from accessing health care services. Through the charity work I have seen many over 65 year olds living with signs and symptoms of various diseases, who have not been able to access the services we have built and provide! Continue reading

Is frailty becoming less fatal?

Professor Fiona Matthews is Professor of Epidemiology at Newcastle University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK. In this blog, she shares a recent Age and Ageing publication looking at data collected since the 1990s on how much frailty exists in the population and whether it is more or less related to dying now than 30 years ago.

Most doctors involved in the care of older people would claim to know a frail patient when they see one. Being able to detect this frailty is crucial to ensure that treatment is appropriate, proportionate and likely to produce positive outcomes wherever possible. The measurement of frailty has become important recently with the inclusion of frailty within the requirements of an assessment in general practice, and tools to assist doctors in emergency departments evaluate frailty quickly. The most popular method for these investigations has been the frailty index, where diseases and impairments are added all together to give a score. The relationship between this frailty index and mortality has been seen across the world, giving rise to suggestions that it is one measure that is consistent across time and place. Continue reading

My future wishes: Advance Care Planning for people with dementia

Beverley Marriott is an Advanced Nurse Practitioner working in the Birmingham community healthcare foundation trust. She is also a King’s College Older Person Fellow. She tweets @bevbighair

The “My future wishes: Advance Care Planning (ACP) for people with dementia in all care settings” document was recently published by NHS England, Dementia Team and End of Life Care Team.

Advance care planning (ACP) is a vital part of personalised care planning. This recently published document acts as a resource to support clinicians and practitioners who provide health and social care for people with dementia. It aims to ensure people living with dementia can develop an ACP through initiating conversations with their supporting clinicians and/or loved ones. It aims to offer a consistent standard of support for patients diagnosed with dementia using ACPs that are developed in partnership with patients and families. Continue reading

Older people and poor care: a human rights issue

In this blog Helen Wildbore, Policy and Programmes Manager at the British Institute of Human Rights, shares some key points from her speech to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ageing and Older People’s inquiry on human rights on 24th April. Helen shared the platform with Dr Eileen Burns, President of the British Geriatrics Society.

Why is poor care a human rights issue? At the British Institute of Human Rights (BIHR), we work with people at the sharp end of public services and people placed in vulnerable situations, including older people. When things go ‘wrong’ and people receive poor care, their first thought isn’t necessarily their rights.

But human rights can be a powerful tool Continue reading

ECFs and ANPs – The Future of Frailty?

Rachel Viggars is an Advanced Nurse Practitioner at Ashley Surgery (North Staffordshire CCG). Brigitte Knowles is a Elderly Care Facilitator at Madeley Surgery (North Staffordshire CCG). Both are undertaking the MSc Frailty and Integrated Care at Keele University.

We’ve always loved working with older people. Our roles in general practice certainly facilitate this!  When we were offered the opportunity to study at Masters Level in Medical Science: Frailty and Integrated Care, we jumped at the chance.  Finally, there was a focus on older people and an opportunity to improve standards and care.  But aside from this, it was a fantastic opportunity for us to complete a MSc in an area that we are passionate about, and the multi-professional learning that took place, really valued us as individual Health Care Professionals.  We were able to share and learn from the other professionals on the course and we really started to believe that we could do this and make a difference to our patient groups.  Continue reading

The Great Balancing Act – perspectives from older people on falls risk

Dr Kristy Robson is a Lecturer in Podiatry at Charles Sturt University, a regional university in Australia. In this blog she shares a recent Age and Ageing publication that explores the behavioural decisions older people make when they knowingly and unknowingly undertake activities or tasks that pose a risk of falling. She tweets @KristyRobson2

Fall related injuries in older people constitute a significant public health issue in Australia and internationally. Falling represents the leading cause of unintentional injury in this population with approximately one third of older adults falling each year. Effective management of falls in older populations has proven to be challenging. Despite the substantial focus on falls prevention by the Australian government over the last decade the age standardised hospital admission rates attributed to falls continue to increase. The complexity of managing falls risk in the diverse populations found within Australia, coupled with an ageing population and finite resources, drives the need to better understand factors that can influence falling from the perspective of the older person. Continue reading