The GERIATRIC 5Ms – the 5 simple words every geriatrician needs to know (the new mantra)

Frank Molnar is a Canadian Royal College specialist in Geriatric Medicine who serves as the President of the Canadian Geriatrics Society and as the editor of that society’s Continuing Medical Education Journal. He tweets @FrankMolnarCGS

Those outside Specialized Geriatric Services have long had great difficulty understanding what specialists in Geriatrics do. We have contributed to this lack of clarity. As experts in complexity we often have difficulty communicating simply. In well-intentioned efforts to be inclusive and comprehensive we have employed long complex definitions that few outside our field can understand much less recall.

How often have you heard “what do you geriatricians really do?” Are you tired of explaining and re-explaining yourself? Are you looking for a better way to explain and sell our specialty? Continue reading

Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment and the role it plays in improving care delivered to the older person

Dr Diarmuid O’Shea is a Consultant Geriatrician at St Vincent’s University Hospital Dublin, and Clinical Lead for the National Clinical Programme of Older People in Ireland.  

Ms. Carmel Hoey is a Nursing & Midwifery Planning and Development Officer at the NMPD Unit, Galway, and HSE Service Planner for the National Clinical Programme of Older People in Ireland. 

Countries around the world are seeing significant growth in the numbers of people living longer and healthier lives. We all need to reflect proactively on how we can best maximise the intergenerational benefits this will undoubtedly bring and we must also address the challenges it will generate.

Ireland is no different, with a substantial growth evident in our older population. The number of people aged over 65 years increased by 14% between 2006 and 2011. An increase of 17% is predicted between 2011 and 2016, and a further 17% is expected by 2021 (Central Statistics Office, 2013). Continue reading

New Horizons in multimorbidity

Dr John V. Hindle was appointed Senior Clinical Lecturer in Care of the Elderly, to the School of Medical Sciences, in 2009. He has also held an honorary appointment as Senior Lecturer in Bangor University’s School of Psychology, since 1998. Here he discusses his Age and Ageing paper New horizons in multimorbidity in older adults.

There is increasing political and clinical interests in the concepts of multimorbidity and frailty. For those of us working with older people in primary and secondary care we feel that intuitively we understand these concepts. After all, we have been working towards improvement in care people with multimorbidity and frailty for many decades, and in some ways this was the origin of the specialty of Geriatric Medicine. However, although I have been working as a geriatrician for over 30 years, armed with my intuition, it is only in recent times that I have begun to truly understand the complexities of these issues. In recent years the concept of multimorbidity and particularly frailty have been injected with scientific understanding and explanation. We have come to understand the great impact that these issues have on health and social care, and the pressures that they bring to bear. The complexity of multimorbidity in the context of frailty, dementia and polypharmacy particularly bears a substantial healthcare burden. If like me you struggle to understand the full picture of the relationship between frailty and multi-morbidity, it is worth reading the article on New Horizons on Multimorbidity in Older Adults [1]. This overview helps explain the link between the concepts of multi-mobility and frailty and their relevance to the healthcare of older people. Although many people live with multimorbidity in midlife, particularly contributed to by social deprivation, it is important to understand that complex multimorbidity increases with increasing age.  The majority of older people have two or more long term conditions with care home residents having significant levels of multimorbidity.    Continue reading

The struggle for age-proof medical care in the Netherlands

Wilco Achterberg (1963) is an elderly care physician and a Professor of institutional care and elderly care medicine in Leiden, the Netherlands. His research focus is on the most vulnerable elderly, most of whom live in nursing homes, and is centered around two themes: pain in dementia and geriatric rehabilitation. He tweets @wilcoachterberg

The Netherlands have been very fortunate to have had a very good insurance system for long term care, which provided good funding for nursing home care. That is why in a typical Dutch Nursing home you can find, next to nurses, therapists like physiotherapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, dieticians and even physicians. In 1989, a 2 year post graduate medical training program started, and ‘nursing home physician’ became an officially recognised medical specialism.  The biggest challenge for Ageing Holland is not how to provide good care for older persons, but how to pay for that care. Therefore, for several years now government is trying to find other ways of caring for vulnerable and care dependent persons. Continue reading

If frailty is viewed by some as a “commissioning Trojan Horse” this should be admitted

Dr Shibley Rahman is currently an academic physician in dementia and frailty. His contribution on the diagnosis of behavioural frontal frontotemporal dementia, published while he was a M.B./Ph.D. student at Cambridge in 1999, is considered widely to be an important contribution to the field, even cited in the Oxford Textbook of Medicine. Here he responds to Steve Parry’s recent BGS blog, The Frailty Industry: Too Much Too Soon?  He tweets at @dr_shibley.

In response to Steve Parry’s recent BGS blog, The Frailty Industry: Too Much Too Soon?, I would simply in this article like to set out some of the strengths and weaknesses in the conceptualisation of frailty, with some pointers about “where now?

There is, actually, no international consensus definition of frailty (although there is one of a related term “cognitive frailty”).

In a world of fierce competition for commissioning, and equally intense political lobbying in health and social care, the danger is that a poorly formulated notion becomes merely a “Trojan Horse” for commissioning.

I must humbly depart from the views of some colleagues – for me, frailty is not just a word. I could likewise point to other single words which cause gross offence, which are unrepeatable in my blogpost here. Continue reading

Person-centred care in a sustainable system

Dr Eileen Burns has been a geriatrician in Leeds since 1992 and is President of the BGS. She is currently Clinical Lead for integration in Leeds. She tweets @EileenBurns13 This blog originally appeared as part of Independent Age’s Doing Care Differently series. You can join the debate here.

We warmly welcome Independent Age’s new project, Doing care differently. Our members are passionate advocates for person-centred care. The role of geriatricians and specialist health care professionals starts with identifying the care and treatment that best suits an older person’s individual needs and wishes, and those of their families and carers.  Delays in access to social care, and also in intermediate care, for example, occupational and physio therapy, create unnecessary barriers to person centred care, leading to poorer health outcomes, an increased likelihood of presenting at A&E, and people having to stay on acute hospital wards for longer than necessary.  For older people with frailty the negative impact when this occurs is significant, and their health deteriorates with every additional day spent on an acute hospital ward. Continue reading

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

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

Dementia awareness is not just for one week – it’s for life

Dr Shibley Rahman is currently an academic physician in dementia and frailty. His contribution on the diagnosis of behavioural frontal frontotemporal dementia, published while he was a M.B./Ph.D. student at Cambridge in 1999, is considered widely to be an important contribution to the field even cited in the Oxford Textbook of Medicine. He has published widely on dementia, and his first book ‘Living well with dementia’ won best book for health and social care for the BMJ Awards in 2015. His third book ‘Enhancing health and wellbeing in dementia: a person-centred integrated care approach’ was published earlier this year on aspects of the integrated care pathway, and likewise has been critically acclaimed. He, furthermore, has a passionate interest in rights-based approaches which he accrued as part of his postgraduate legal training. He tweets at @dr_shibley.

This week – in England –  it’s ‘Dementia Awareness Week’ – 14-20 May 2017. But so what?

The problem is – ‘dementia awareness’ means different things to different people. In a nutshell, I hope that the workforce can embrace the notion that people living with dementia are incredibly rewarding to support and look after, and use this week as part of a celebration of this.

If you’re working in health and social care, it can be surprisingly easy to overestimate the knowledge about dementia amongst some members of the general public. Continue reading

Mental Capacity and Deprivation of Liberty – an update on reform

Caroline Cooke is Policy Manager at BGS and Premila Fade is BGS’s End of Life Care Lead.  Here they explain the background to, and significance of, the report published by the Law Commission, “Mental Capacity and Deprivation of Liberty” on 17 March 2017.

What are DoLS?  The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) are a set of protections for adults who lack the mental capacity to consent to deprivation of their liberty by, for example, admission either to hospital or a care home for treatment or care.  They were introduced as part of the Mental Health Act 2007.  The intention behind their introduction was to ensure that no-one is deprived of liberty without good reason, and the right of legal challenge is built into the authorisation process.  The idea was to close the so called ‘Bournewood gap’ whereby adults admitted informally (i.e. not via the Mental Health Act) did not have an automatic right to appeal.  The European Court of Human Rights (HL v United Kingdom) ruled that this lack of safeguards was a breach of article 5 ‘The right to Liberty’ of the Human Rights Act. Continue reading