Call Issued To Join Up Home & Community-Based Elderly Care
Charity Age UK has issued a call to move away from being overly reliant on acute hospital-based care for older people and focus more on prevention and early intervention.
This, the organisation believes, will enable older people to stay fit and healthy while living independently at home, or within a care home setting, something that would be beneficial for them while also reducing pressure on hospitals around the country.
Its State of Health and Care of Older People In England 2023 report has revealed that the health and care system is struggling and often failing to meet the needs of the ageing population. It was found that in 2021/22 there were 4.8 million attendances in A&E by older people, while attendance rates among the over-80s rose by 40 per cent between 2012 and 2021.
Furthermore, in 2019/20, there were 855,000 emergency hospital admissions that could have been avoided if the right care had been provided at the right time.
To address the situation, the charity is keen to see strong government leadership and a drive across the NHS and local authorities to ensure that small health problems are treated earlier before they develop into something bigger that requires urgent clinical support.
The report is calling for a strategic push to reverse the decline of primary and community health services and social care. In addition, it wants to see more community-based services developed and joined up to include healthcare professionals and those in the voluntary sector all working closely together.
And a ‘home first’ principle should be adopted as the foundation of the country’s approach to health and social care in the future.
Age UK chief executive Paul Farmer said: “It’s clear that we need services to reach out to older people much sooner, particularly those living at home, quite often alone, whose health is fragile or declining.
“This would not only be great news for older people, and their families, providing much needed reassurance, it would be cost-effective too. And it would go a long way to relieving the enormous pressure on hospitals as well.”
Charity director Caroline Abrams made further comments, saying one key strategy will be the development of an ambitious social care workforce plan that rewards the contributions of care staff and recognises the valuable work they do.
Enabling people to remain in their homes for as long as possible, retaining their dignity and independence comes with all sorts of benefits, everything from boosting their confidence and self-esteem to improving their quality of life, reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness, fostering a sense of empowerment and so on.
One of the best ways to facilitate ageing in place is to make home adaptations that take into account your changing needs. These can range from disability baths and walk-in showers to grab rails, non-slip mats, wider doorways, lower countertops and downstairs bathrooms.
The necessary changes will depend on what your specific requirements are and these may change over time, so maintaining a flexible approach could ensure that you’re able to stay in your home for as long as possible.