Depression among older people living in care homes – a call for good practice examples

Caroline Cooke is Policy Manager at British Geriatrics Society. Caroline is currently supporting a joint project being carried out by BGS and the Old Age Faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatry. Here she explains the aim of the project and how you can help to make it a success. 

In the UK 405,000 older people (65+) currently live in care homes. Older people living in care homes have complex health needs and most residents have multiple long-term conditions, significant disability and frailty which affect both their physical and mental health. Dementia affects the majority of residents in care homes to some degree and depression is common. Integrated provision is required to meet the needs of care home residents who require co-ordinated input from generalists and specialists in multiple disciplines, and partnerships are essential to integration.  Continue reading

Autumn Speakers Series: Benchmarking Practice in UK Long-term care, can we make it work?

Adam Gordon is Clinical Associate Professor in Medicine of Older People at the University of Nottingham and a Consultant Geriatrician at Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. He is a specialist advisor to the East Midlands Academic Health Sciences Network Patient Safety Collaborative on Care Homes and will be speaking at the upcoming BGS Autumn Meeting in London. He tweets at @adamgordon1978

Contrary to what might be gleaned from the lay media, the quality of care received by residents in care homes – whether from care home or National Health Service staff – is frequently exceptional.  Care home residents are amongst the most complex recipients of care within the health and social care system and so they can stretch even the most capable and dedicated of staff. It is therefore, perhaps, unsurprising that things do not always go to plan – even in the best of homes. There are also, undoubtedly, examples of care homes where things go wrong more frequently – where shortcomings in care are not so much sporadic, as systematic. This is unacceptable. Continue reading

BGS Election Manifesto

Caroline Cooke is Policy Manager at BGS.  Here she explains why BGS has published its own election manifesto, what it says and how you can get involved. 

The 2017 General Election offers an opportunity to promote the issues that most affect the healthcare of older people across the UK.  By publishing our own manifesto we are helping to raise awareness and understanding among key opinion-formers and decision-makers, including parliamentary candidates, of the work of BGS and the unique expertise of our members.  It is also a way of demonstrating that BGS will be working to influence policy development after the election.  Continue reading

Spring Speakers Series: Why worry about mouthcare?

Sam Shah discusses the HEE supported project exploring hydration, nutrition and mouthcare in hospital and community care settings. The project involves training staff and raising awareness to improve the quality of care, to help avoid admission and to support discharge. The insights from this project will be shared at the  BGS Spring Meeting in Gateshead on the 28th April at 9:30-11:00.

29.11.07. Enjoying healthy meals at Glanmarlais Care Home, Llandybie, Ammanford, left Mair Mills & right Olivia Jones. Picture Ralph Carpenter.

We are all accustomed to brushing our own teeth and cleaning our mouths, it’s entrenched in the daily routines of most people. Most of us are able to eat and drink ourselves and we understand the link between what we eat and our how our bodies respond. A big challenge in the care of frail older people, and those in high needs settings, is ensuring their hydration, nutrition and mouthcare needs are supported. Continue reading

Unchain me: how our approach to safety leads to harm

Professor Joseph Ibrahim is Head, Health Law and Ageing Research Unit at Monash University’s Department of Forensic Medicine and the Clinical Director of Geriatric, Rehabilitation and Palliative Care Medicine, at a large regional health service in Australia. Joseph has a keen interest in promoting better care for older people and edits the Communiqués printed educational material designed for health professionals to learn from cases investigated by the Coroners Court. Learn more about Joseph on his personal website.

Joseph and the team recently completed a landmark Australian study published in Age and Ageing, examining deaths due to physical restraint of people living in nursing homes. The study found that five deaths were recorded in nursing home residents due to physical restraint over the 13-year period. The median age of the residents who died was 83 years; all residents had impaired mobility and had restraints applied for falls prevention; four had diagnosed dementia. The mechanism of harm and cause of death were ascertained by a forensic pathologist following autopsy and in all cases, were formulated as ‘neck compression and entrapment by the restraints’. Continue reading

‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’: raising the status of care home nursing

Dr Miriam Stanyon is a Research Fellow on the Achieving Quality and Effectiveness for Dementia Using Crisis Teams (AQUEDUCT) research programme at the University of Nottingham. She also worked, until very recently, for a number of years as a care assistant in care homes.  Here she talks about work to establish agreed competencies for Registered Nurses working in care homes.

nursing-home-residentIt is no secret that care home nurses get a bad press. If you type ‘care home’ into the BBC news website, the result is a series of stories about neglect and elder abuse, care homes put in special measures by the CQC or having to close due to lack of funding.  Among nurses themselves, care home nursing has a lower status than working in the NHS. It has traditionally been seen as a job to do when you’re close to retirement or can’t get a job in a hospital. I remember speaking to a colleague after she had attended some CPD training (which she had to self-fund and attend in her own time) and she expressed how she felt embarrassed to ‘only work in a care home’. Continue reading

Every older person in a care home needs access to high quality healthcare

chg-v2The 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. Continue reading

Choosing the right care for people from nursing homes: Hobson’s Choice, Morton’s Fork or Buridan’s Ass?

Glenn Arendts is Associate Professor in Emergency Medicine at the University of Western Australia and Chair of the Geriatric Special Interest Group of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine. He writes about his Age & Age paper. 

donkeyHobson’s Choice: A choice where there is really only one option
Morton’s fork: A choice between two equally unpleasant alternatives
Buridan’s Ass: A hungry donkey placed equal distance from two identical bales of hay cannot use reason to choose between them, and so dies of hunger

Take a straw poll of hospital emergency department (ED) staff and you will find majority support for the following statement: “too many people from nursing homes are sent to the ED”. That your poll results may say something about the views of some hospital staff toward nursing home (NH) residents is immaterial. Acute medical care of dependent people with life limiting illness is an area of legitimate concern, and the prevailing orthodoxy is that ED is a less than ideal place to deliver it. For decades, health services have invested in a variety of programs and interventions to reduce the transfer from NH to ED. Continue reading

‘Distraction’ techniques as first-line treatments to manage dementia-related behaviours in care homes

Tamara Backhouse is a senior research associate at the University of East Anglia. In this blog, she discusses her recent co-authored Age and Ageing paper on the use of non-pharmacological interventions for dementia-related behaviours in care homes.

aaDementia-related behaviours such as, aggression, agitation, anxiety, wandering and delusions are common. They can be distressing for individuals with dementia and create challenges for those caring for them. Many care-home residents with dementia experience these behaviours frequently. Non-pharmacological interventions (such as, music therapy, animal-assisted therapy, massage and aromatherapy) have been recommended as first-line treatments for dementia-related behaviours. However little is known about the day-to-day use of these interventions in care homes. We explored if, and how, non-pharmacological interventions were being used in care homes to manage dementia-related behaviours. Continue reading

Delirium research in care homes: Trojan Horses and Holy Grails!

Najma Siddiqi is a Clinical Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry who works at the University of York & Hull York Medical School; and Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust. She discusses her Age & Ageing paper ‘The PiTSTOP study: a feasibility cluster randomized trial of delirium prevention in care homes for older people’.

aaDelirium (often called ‘Acute Confusional State’) is a common and serious illness among older people. It can be very distressing for patients, their families, and for healthcare staff; and can lead to worsening dementia, hospitalisation and death.

There is relatively little research on delirium in general, but this is particularly true of delirium in the care home setting. Continue reading