Drug burden in older people approaching end of life

Dr. Denis Curtin is a specialist registrar in Geriatric Medicine in Cork University Hospital, Ireland. His paper Drug consumption and futile medication prescribing in the last year of life: an observational study was recently published the Age and Ageing journal.

The vast majority of older adults are admitted to hospital in their last year of life. For many of these people, hospitalizations are frequent and prolonged.

We reviewed the medical records of 410 older adults who were admitted to our hospital in the year prior to death. The median number of days spent in hospital was 32. While in hospital, patients consumed an average of 24 different medications. One-in-six patients consumed 35 or more individual medications. When discharged home from hospital, patients were prescribed an average of 2 unnecessary or inappropriate medications. Continue reading

Can a National Frailty Education Programme be a driver of culture change in healthcare?

Dr Diarmuid O’Shea is a Consultant Geriatrician at St Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin, Ireland, and Deirdre Lang is the Director of Nursing, National Clinical Programme for Older People, Royal College of Physicians of Ireland and Health Services Executive

We all know that population ageing is occurring rapidly. Between 2015 and 2030 the number of people in the world aged 60 years or over is projected to grow by an extraordinary 56%. By 2050, the global population of older people is projected to more than double its size (United Nations, 2015). In Ireland, the population 65 years and over is projected to increase by between 58 and 63 per cent from 2015 to 2030. The older old population (i.e. those aged 80 years of age and over) is set to rise even more dramatically, by between 85 per cent and 94 per cent in this time period (ESRI 2017). 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

Lessons of the Francis Report are not just confined to the NHS

The BGS blog has recently hosted a lot of commentary about the Francis Report and its implications for the NHS, particularly in England. It can be useful, in times of reflection, to look outside of your immediate working environment to consider what can be learned from elsewhere. The Francis Report has implications for other healthcare economies.

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Here Prof Des O’Neil considers its implications for care in the Republic of Ireland. This article initially appeared on the BMJ blog.

The terrifying Francis report from Mid Staffordshire demonstrated vividly how older people became early victims of poor leadership and standards in the NHS, very belatedly recognised canaries in the coal mine.

Across the Irish Sea, a new and unhappy phenomenon is arising for older people in a mixed private and public healthcare system. A somewhat messy and porous border separates the two systems, with public and private beds in public and voluntary hospitals, as well as exclusively private hospitals which provide elective care in the main. There is much less discussion within the profession than might be desirable about the impact of the system on professional practice, with the few studies available (from general practice) showing differing treatment patterns for public and private patients . The aspiration of the current government is for a system of universal coverage, based on the Dutch model, but few are holding their breath. Continue reading