By Debbie le Quesne

Changing the mindset on care for the elderly

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Recently, a report by the Royal College of Physicians demonstrated the strain elderly patients are putting on acute care within the NHS.

Another report from the British Geriatric Society (BGS) at about the same time concluded that intermediate care for the elderly was key to the way ahead.

The finding of both these investigations prompted a response from Lawrence Tomlinson, Chair of Ideal Care Homes, a relatively new name to the industry but clearly an influential player,

Writing a guest column in The Guardian, Mr Tomlinson said elderly patients were too often viewed as a burden on the NHS, social services and Government spending. He has called for a more positive approach to ensuring health and social care services can respond to growing demand effectively and in the interests of patients.

His comments are worthy, well thought out and, I believe need more exposure – hence, this piece.


Commenting on the reports, Mr Tomlinson says in the newspaper:

All too often it feels like we are fighting fires with elderly care.  As the BGS’s report shows, there are methods out there, such as intermediate care, which has positive effects on both the care for the individual and the strain on resources in the health service. 

“It is therefore disappointing that these services are not better utilised, especially when the RCP are reporting the impact fractured care is having on elderly patients care in hospital.  I was shocked by their findings that elderly patients are so frequently moved between wards and receive ‘fractured’ care due to short shift patterns. 

“Especially heart breaking is the fact that 4 per cent of patients who die in hospital are not in the appropriate care setting- there are more appropriate capabilities available so why aren’t we using them?”

I find it sad that hospitals know elderly patients are not necessarily in the right place but do not have easily accessible pathways to alternative arrangements. 

Many of our member’s homes would be better placed to offer end of life care.

Hospital staff become frustrated and an attitude towards elderly patients as being a burden to the NHS becomes self-perpetuating.

Mr Tomlinson urges a change of mindset, The Guardian reports:

“We need to reverse this idea that demographic change is going to lead hospitals buckling under growing pressure from elderly patients with complex needs.  Let’s get a proactive system in place that takes advantage of all care settings, reducing the load from hospitals, so that those who require medical treatment get it and are not compromised by the strain on the system from those who would be better treated in a different care setting.”

Mr Tomlinson goes on to say that NHS reforms offer a real opportunity to make these problems a thing of the past and I wholeheartedly agree.

I believe the private sector has a key role to play in improving care for the elderly, especially in resolving the care home/hospital dilemma.

Mr Tomlinson adds: “I call on Health and Wellbeing Boards, Commissioning Support Services and Clinical Commissioning Groups alike to engage with your local providers and get an effective and responsive care pathway in place to better distribute the responsibility of care for elderly patients. This will be immeasurably important in changing the attitude towards and improve the quality of care of elderly patients receive, no longer allowing them to be seen as a burden.”

Mr Tomlinson, please keep campaigning . . . perhaps as more of us push for the care our elderly richly deserve someone with Cabinet influence will hear our cries.


Written by debbielq

September 20, 2012 at 10:13 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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