Healthcare 'unfit for ageing UK'
Published on 06 March 2014 12:00 PM
The UK's health and care system is failing to meet the needs of an ageing population, it is reported.
There needs to be a fundamental shift so healthcare can meet patients' individual needs, according to a new report from The King's Fund.
It calls for agencies to collaborate more effectively given that 1 in 5 people will be over the age of 65 in England by 2030.
The report, entitled 'Making our health and care systems fit for an ageing population', calls for care to be co-ordinated around individual needs rather than single diseases, and for prevention and support for maintaining independence to be prioritised.
One of the key goals cited in the report is to enable older people to live well with stable long-term conditions, avoiding unnecessary complications and acute crises.
It specifically calls for improved collaboration between the NHS and social care so patients are able to leave hospital promptly following treatment with good community support waiting for them.
And it says older people must have rapid access to urgent care, including effective alternatives to hospital, at times of crisis.
Better integration across teams needed
Integrated working across teams is identified as the key component needed to achieve these goals and the report praises various instances of innovative working that have been put in place in local areas.
One such example is the Gnosall GP surgery in Staffordshire, where hospital stays have been reduced as patients over 75 get an annual health review. Experienced 'elder care facilitators' also help guide patients through the system and draw up care plans.
Another example given is at Newcastle West CCG, which together with Newcastle City Council has created an ageing-well strategy that includes targeted health checks among 40 to 74-year-olds and engages older people as volunteers and health champions.
Meanwhile, the University Hospitals Birmingham Dignity for Older Patients Project has 506 'dignity champions' from different teams working to promote dignity in care.
Faced with a 'twin challenge' of an ageing population and tighter funding, the health and care systems 'have a long way to go', according to David Oliver, Visiting Fellow at The King's Fund.
'Many local service leaders are transforming services for older people, but we urgently need to see their experiences spread more widely.
'But marginal change will not be enough; transformation is needed at scale and at pace.'
Campaign for better care
Age UK has today published a report Care in Crisis 2014 (PDF 750KB) revealing the disastrous depths that the crisis in care has reached and its distressing human cost.
Age UK wants a care system where people can access the care they need and continues to campaign for a better social care system.
To join the campaign or for more information, go to the Care in Crisis website or call 0800 169 6565.
The campaign booklet Care in Crisis: What's next for social care (PDF 819 KB) is also available for download. It explains how the crisis in care affects individual and their families.
Copyright Press Association 2014