A generation of Doctors unable to look after their patients?

Dr Anthony James is a Consultant Physician at Princess of Wales Hospital. 

There have been many changes in recent years. The patients are older with more frailty, multiple comorbidities and a mixture of social and medical issues. These patients are often described as ‘complex’, making them sound as if they are something special. The reality is that they are now the norm and everybody should be able to deal with the norm. These problems are recognised by Royal College of Physicians in Hospitals on the Edge? The time for action (2012);

‘All hospital inpatients deserve to receive safe, high-quality, sustainable care centered around their needs and delivered in an appropriate setting by respectful, compassionate, expert health professionals. Yet it is increasingly clear that our hospitals are struggling to cope with the challenge of an ageing population and increasing hospital admissions.’ Continue reading

Book Review: Please tell me…

Liz Charalambous is a nurse and PhD student. She tweets @lizcharalambou and is a regular guest blogger for the BGS. Here she reviews ‘Please tell me…’ by Julia Jones and Claudia Myatt.

Without a doubt, one of the most important documents in older person care is the Alzheimer’s Society This is me support tool. It enables carers to access information with which to provide holistic care and is underpinned by a social model of care rather than a medical model, so important in today’s world of fast paced, pressurised, and increasingly politicised healthcare services. It places the person in the centre of care, ensuring their likes, dislikes, and preferences are recorded for the whole team to access.

Indeed, a favourite teaching strategy when introducing new students to dementia care is to provide them with two copies of ‘this is me’ and ask them to take them home for their partners or significant others to complete in the manner of ‘Mr and Mrs’ style 1970s TV programme. I have heard many stories of students returning the next day reporting back to the group that their other half had failed hopelessly in filling in the form, prompting them to realise the precariousness of ensuring person centred care in such instances. Continue reading

Book review: The Geriatrician in Court

Dr Shane O’Hanlon is a consultant geriatrician and Honorary Secretary of the BGS. He holds a law degree and has a special interest in medicolegal matters. He tweets @drohanlon

Most doctors spend their career hoping never to see the inside of a courtroom! While geriatricians are probably among the most rarely sued specialists, we can still have quite frequent involvement with the law – the Coroner’s Court is a good example. There is also an increasing amount of medicolegal work related to dementia, deprivation of liberty safeguards and mental capacity. In this environment there has been a gap in the market for a book that focuses specifically on our needs, but retired geriatrician Dr Geoffrey Phillips is at hand with help.

The Geriatrician in Court” is a handbook of “how to do it” based upon his thirty years of experience in preparing medico-legal reports and attending court to give expert evidence. The book covers all the main topics over the course of 226 pages. It begins with an outline of the legal system, criminal versus civil law, negligence and burden of proof. Important areas such as mental capacity, testamentary capacity, abuse, medical error and resuscitation all feature. Continue reading

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

How older people move in bed when they are ill

Kenneth Rockwood MD, FRCPC, FRCP is Professor of Medicine (Geriatric Medicine & Neurology) at Dalhousie University, and a staff physician at the Halifax Infirmary of the Nova Scotia Health Authority. He tweet @Krockdoc  

The dangers of going to bed”, elaborated by Richard Asher in 1947 illustrates for just how long the hospital bed has been recognized as a hazard for older adults.  It can also be source of rich clinical information.  Understanding this through quantification and plain language descriptors offers one means to “geriatrize” routine care. Like many of such workaday skills, assessing how someone moves in bed is not that tricky, but it requires both the cognitive task of paying attention and the affective one of wanting to do so. Continue reading

Old problems, new solutions

Alistair Burns is Professor of Old Age Psychiatry and Vice Dean for the Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences at The University of Manchester. He is the National Clinical Director for Dementia and Older Peoples’ Mental Health, NHS England. This blog was originally published on the NHS England website. He will be speaking at the upcoming BGS Autumn Meeting in London.

As now seems to be tradition, let’s start with some statistics.

Up to four out of ten people over the age of 65 experience mental health problems. Depression is both the most common and most treatable mental illness in old age, affecting one in five older people in the community. This figure doubles in the presence of physical illness and trebles in hospitals and care homes. Nor should we forget that older people also experience severe mental illnesses.

About one fifth of all suicides happen in older people. Risk factors include: being male, being widowed, increasing age, social isolation, physical illness – present in up to 80 per cent of cases – pain, alcohol misuse and depressive illness past or present. 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

MDTea Club and Podcast – Join the conversation

MDTea is by Dr Joanna Preston @GerisJo and Dr Iain Wilkinson @geriatricsdoc, consultant Geriatricians at St. George’s Hospital, London and Surrey and Sussex Healthcare Trust respectively.

MDTea offers free education on ageing for the whole MDT. We produce fortnightly podcasts on common topics encountered in clinical practice, critically looking at what evidence bases exist and which do not and applying practical solutions. The aim is to upskill a diverse workforce by discussing each topic from multi-disciplinary view points, not just one profession. We work and learn in teams in real life to solve problems so we aim to translate this to a shared format.

We have released 30 episodes over the last 18 months with funding for 20 more at the moment. Our 4th series started recently with an episode on Theories of Ageing. Others include mouth care, pain, delirium, falls prevention and management, interventions in early dementia, identity and nutrition, to name a few. Our most recent episode was on Sex and older adults – a largely neglected topic. Continue reading

Quality Dementia Care in Hospital Settings – It can be done!

Lynn Flannigan is an Allied Health Professional who is working as an Improvement Advisor for Focus on Dementia. She tweets @lynnflannigan1 Dr Graeme Hoyle is a Consultant Physician in the Department of Medicine for the Elderly in NHS Grampian. He tweets @AbdnGeriatrics.

Focus on Dementia, in partnership with Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, have produced a publication which explores the critical success factors which lead to improved outcomes for people with dementia, their carers and staff in acute care, which we would like to share with BGS members.

Focus on Dementia is a national improvement portfolio based within the ihub of Healthcare Improvement Scotland. We work in partnership with national organisations, health and social care practitioners, people with dementia and carers to reduce variation and improve quality of care. Continue reading