All posts tagged NHS Continuing Healthcare

Responsibilities and the NHS – The A&E Abuse that's Killing our Ageing Population

Along with rights come responsibilities, right? The NHS is at breaking point for a number of reasons including an ageing population. There can be no doubt that the current healthcare system is unsustainable and we need to do something about it.

I feel passionate about involving people in every aspect of their care because I believe we know ourselves better than anyone else possibly could. I am also motivated to protect the rights of older people and take this responsibility very seriously.

Now as I mentioned earlier, rights come with responsibilities and I am on a mission to help people become more aware of what those responsibilities are.

The NHS is at breaking point for a number of reasons including an ageing population. There can be no doubt that the current healthcare system is unsustainable and we need to do something about it.

The following information provided by Age UK demonstrates the extent of the problem and helps us understand why we must start to take responsibility for our own health without delay.

Facts and figures about the ageing population

  • Nearly one in five people will currently live to see their 100th birthday
  • There are 10.3 million people aged 65 or over in the UK
  • By 2083, about one in three people will be over 60.
  • There are more pensioners than there are children under 16
  • The number of people over 85 is predicted to double in the next 20 years and nearly treble in the next 30.

With the growing number of older people many of whom have, or will have, long term, complex and multiple conditions, it is not surprising that we are experiencing longer waiting times to see our GP, have an operation and be treated at A & E departments.

Increase in use of A & E departments

Ambulance parked outside hospitalA survey undertaken last year by the Care Quality Commission found one in three patients claim they have spent more than four hours in hospital accident and emergency departments in England. And only the other week I read in our local paper about the massive increase in hospital A & E admissions in our hospitals.

This means A&E departments across the country are slowing down and people who need urgent medical care are not getting prompt treatment.

Reason for the increase in use of A & E departments

The reason for this is that many people are using accident and emergency departments for non emergencies, minor ailments and as an extension of their doctor’s surgery. A &E staff have to balance the need to deal with genuine medical emergencies and serious injuries, with the needs of people who are less seriously ill, which results in long waiting times.

It is understandable that if we are worried about our health, we want to get treatment and reassurance. However unless we are seriously ill or have had an accident, there are alternatives which are more appropriate, more convenient and quicker than heading for our nearest A & E department such as seeking advice from NHS Direct, a pharmacist, or making an appointment to see our GP.

Playing our part in reducing demand on A & E departments

It is our NHS and if we want our hospital A & E departments to deliver prompt professional medical treatment when we need it, we must play our part and only seek their help when absolutely necessary and having considered other alternatives.

Alan's experience of NHS Continuing Healthcare

Alan Price was 72 when he had a stroke that robbed him of his independence. He had never married, had no living family and had worked on the same farm in West Sussex for many years. Alan loved working outside and was very knowledgeable about farm machinery and became animated when being shown a model tractor and picture of a farm in a book.

Since having the stroke, Alan has been funded by NHS Continuing Healthcare (CHC). NHS CHC is a package of services and support arranged and fully funded by the NHS for people with long-term health needs. Eligibility for continuing healthcare support and funding is determined on the basis that someone’s primary care need is a health need.

Unlike people funded by Social Services, CHC nurses do not case manage patients or review their needs other than to check that they continue to meet the CHC criteria. As a result, I was asked by Alan’s solicitor, who holds a power of attorney for him, to visit Alan at his nursing home to review his care needs and see if there was anything he needed to improve his life. While not having a lot of money, Alan had some modest savings, which could be used for the purpose.

With increasing pressure on the NHS budget, people are inevitably being cared for as economically as possible. This was certainly evident when I met with Alan. He had no care plan identifying his needs and how they were to me met and I found a lack of attention to his emotional, social and spiritual needs. Staffing levels did not allow for any one-to-one time to take him out for example, or for any therapeutic intervention such as physiotherapy or hand massage. However, not everything was about money. I was concerned to observe a number of things that demonstrated a lack of attention to seeing Alan as an individual, such as putting up a beloved picture of the farm where Alan worked on a wall behind his bed where he was unable to see it.

The following is a list of the suggestions I made to improve Alan’s quality of life:

  • Reposition the picture of Alan’s farm so he could see it
  • Buy a DVD recorder and DVDs that would interest Alan, for example Victorian and Edwardian Farm collections and old time music from the 40s and 50s, which he loved.
  • Buy a recliner chair for his room in order that he could sit comfortably while watching his DVDs.
  • Arrange physiotherapy to strengthen Alan’s limbs.
  • Arrange a regular hand massage
  • Arrange for an agency carer to take Alan out once a week.
  • Ask the vicar from the church Alan used to attend to visit him on a regular basis.