Palliative care provisions are not meeting the needs of an ageing population

A commentary published today in Age and Ageing, the scientific journal of the British Geriatrics Society, warns despite the fact that frail older people with multiple illnesses and end stage dementia are the most rapidly growing group in need of palliative care current provisions are not aligned to meet their needs.

The authors of the commentary noted that current projections indicate that between 25% and 47% more people may need palliative care by 2040 in England and Wales. A high proportion of these people will die following a prolonged period of increasing frailty and co-morbidity including cancer, but also other long-term conditions such as heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes or renal failure. Continue reading

A Taste of the BGS

Fran Kirkham is an F2 doctor at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, having graduated from the Cambridge Graduate Course in Medicine in 2016. She originally did an English degree at Cambridge University and worked in PR and Communications for 7 years. She hopes to pursue a career in Community Geriatrics.

“So we drove on toward death through the cooling twilight.”
~ The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

An FY2 taster week can have a multitude of meanings. For some, it offers a reprieve from their mundane day job, almost as desirable as annual leave. For others, it is an opportunity to try a specialty that piqued their interest as a student. Yet others use it for cynical CV-building, knowing exactly to what profession they aspire and ‘proving commitment’ by spending an extra week doing the job they plan to do for the next 40 years. This may gain marks on the flawlessly-designed points-based applications which determine our chances of working in a specialty that bears any resemblance to our future career hopes or a location which is vaguely practical. Of course, a week is not realistically enough to get a sense of any job, nor ‘prove’ commitment to anything. But, as with many things in the NHS, this is the system in which we operate, so we make the best of it. Continue reading

BGS Rising Star Awards: Ruth Law and Thomas Jackson

The BGS Annual Rising Star Award recognises young doctors, nurses and AHPs who have made exceptional contributions to the field of older people’s health care, early in their career. Two awards are available each year; one for research contributions that have translated into, or are in the process of being translated into, improvements to the care of older people, and the other, for a clinical quality project which improves the care of older people with frailty in the award holder’s locality.

In 2017, the award for quality went to Dr Ruth Law, Consultant in Integrated Geriatric Medicine, Whittington Health, for her work with the Integrated Community Ageing Team (ICAT) in Islington and to Dr Thomas Jackson for the work he has been doing in research.

Ruth trained mainly in and around London. She says that her training included a formative year as part of the stroke team at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosciences where she had the privilege of working alongside world-class researchers as they developed a new service. Continue reading

The British Geriatrics Society calls for urgent action on hunger and malnutrition among older people

The British Geriatrics Society welcomes the recently published report by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Hunger. The report highlights that malnutrition is most likely to arise among older people following an accumulation of setbacks – for example bereavement, illness, a loss of community transport services, and a nearby shop closing,  – which leave them unable to access food easily.

Geriatric medicine has always recognised the importance of nutrition and sufficient intake of food and fluid in patient care. We hope that as a matter of urgency Government will seek to address the recommendations from the APPG so that malnutrition in older people, and those at risk of malnutrition, is identified and treated as quickly as possible. Continue reading

Number of older people with four or more diseases will double by 2035, say researchers

A study published recently in Age and Ageing, the scientific journal of the British Geriatrics Society, reports that the number of older people diagnosed with four or more diseases will double between 2015 and 2035. A third of these people will be diagnosed with dementia, depression or a cognitive impairment.

The study, conducted by researchers at Newcastle University’s Institute for Ageing, found that over the next 20 years there will be a massive expansion in the number of people suffering from multiple diseases, known as multi-morbidity. As a result two-thirds of the life expectancy gains, predicted as 3.6 years for men, 2.9 years for women, will be spent with four or more diseases. Continue reading

The Budget was a missed opportunity to help frail older patients stranded in hospital

The President of the British Geriatrics Society commented that the budget ‘failed to address the critical issue of delayed transfers of care for older people by increasing funding for social care’ at the Society’s national conference.

At the BGS national conference on Wednesday (22 November), Dr Eileen Burns, President of the British Geriatrics Society, called for the Chancellor to provide interim funding for social care to help medically fit older patients stranded in hospital wards return to their homes.

Dr Burns commended the government on its additional 10 billion pound capital investment in the NHS and the recent announcement that a Green Paper identifying long term solutions to the social care crisis will be published in the summer of 2018. Despite these measures healthcare professionals remain concerned that the ongoing limitations on social care funding will continue to put intense pressure on the NHS. Continue reading

Age and Ageing papers featured in the OUP Public Health collection

The latest journal Impact Factor results were announced in July and we were delighted to see Age and Ageing continue to grow in impact with a higher score of 4.282.

Our thanks go out to our valued authors who contribute such strong work, and to our army of peer reviews who are essential to the high standard of published material. We are also grateful to all of our readers who share, cite and make use of this work and disseminate research for the improvement of the health and care of older people.

To celebrate improving Impact Factor scores across several of its journals, Oxford University Press has released a collection of the highest cited papers on the theme of Public Health. Continue reading

Retirees leaving sociable workplaces may experience accelerated cognitive decline

A study published recently in Age and Ageing, the scientific journal of the British Geriatrics Society, provides new evidence that workers retiring from occupations which involve high levels of social stimulation may be at greater risk of accelerated cognitive decline in later life.

The study, which was conducted by researchers at University of Liège, in collaboration with the Universities of Bordeaux and South Florida, surveyed 1,048 individuals over the age of 65 from Bordeaux. Participants were evaluated at 2 year intervals for a period of 12 years. Psychologists’ evaluations included detailed assessments of subjects’ mental cognition, general health and information about their former occupation. Three independents raters were asked to evaluate the level of social and intellectual stimulation for each occupation. Continue reading

You may not pull up at the Club with the FT under your arm…

Owen David is a Consultant Physician with an interest in Stroke and Elderly Care at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust. He is the current Deputy Honorary Treasurer of the BGS. 

You might not dress to the nines, you may not pull up at the Club with the FT under your arm, and you may not be married to an accountant, but if you can question, use a basic calculator, get to London a few times a year and like getting involved, then being Deputy Honorary Treasurer to the British Geriatrics Society might be for you.

We are here to advise and help you in this and you will be helping the Society meet its obligations as a registered charity. There is a detailed brief on the role that makes clear the need for accountability and good lines of communication, as you would expect. Continue reading

Designing safer systems of care delivery for older patients

A new study published in Age & Ageing, the scientific journal of the British Geriatrics Society, identified incidents when poor communication between secondary and primary care and failures within primary care led to patient harm and highlights how improved communications systems could help protect older patients from harm. Timely electronic transfer of information with standardised formats could reduce medication and clinical decision-making incidents. Electronic alerts and expanded use of bar-coding are examples of systems which could tackle drug administration incidents.

Older adults are frequent users of primary healthcare services and account for half of all 340 million general practice consultations in the United Kingdom each year.  The study was conducted by researchers at Cardiff University School of Medicine and examined 1,591 patient safety reports relating to patients aged over 65 in England and Wales over an eight year period. Continue reading