Towards a UN Convention on the Rights of Older Persons: 11th session of the Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing 29.03-01.04.2021 

Caroline Green is Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce, King’s College London. In December 2020, Caroline released a Human Rights toolkit as a means of reflecting on human rights in the context of social care. (218 words)

The COVID-19 pandemic has unleashed unprecedented concern over the treatment and rights of older people in societies globally. It has highlighted levels of structural and institutionalised ageism in addition to numerous issues that are in violation of the human rights and freedoms of individuals who are older. Calls have thus grown louder to adopt a UN Convention on the Rights of Older Persons. Its purpose could be to provide a legal human rights framework tailored to specific issues concerning older age groups as a powerful tool for change.

United Nations headquarters in New York, seen from the East River.

To discuss the possibility of such a Convention, delegates from around the world will meet between the 29.03 and the 01.04.2021 at the UN Headquarters in New York for the 11th session of the UN Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing. It will include a virtual element and will be accessible to follow on UN TV and open to all – no registration needed. The address to access this will be: webtv.un.org. More details about the hearing are available at: bit.ly/OEWG11_OlderPersonsRights. Additional info about this process is available via the UN website – specifically on the Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing part of the site. This is available via: https://social.un.org/ageing-working-group/ – then follow Eleventh Session tab for more info/documents relevant to the hearing.

Caroline Green is Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce, King’s College London. In December 2020, Caroline released a Human Rights toolkit as a means of reflecting on human rights in the context of social care.

HOPES 2 study launches! Helping older people with mental health needs to engage with social care

The HOPES 2 study commences this month. Led from the University of York by Dr Louise Newbould and Dr Mark Wilberforce, the project’s full title is ‘Helping older people with mental health needs to engage with social care: Enhancing support worker skills through a prototype learning and development intervention’. Dr Kritika Samsi, Research Fellow at this Unit, is also working on the study, which is funded by the NIHR School for Social Care Research. (542 words)

This project is about the care of older people living with dementia and complex mental health needs. Many studies show that outside help can be hard to accept for people living with poor mental health or memory difficulties. Understanding the purpose of care and communicating any worries can be hard. Sometimes people will reject the care verbally or physically, which can result in them being labelled as a ‘difficult person’. Providing care in these situations can be hard, when home care workers are under pressure to deliver care in often short timeframes. As a result, relationships between the individuals and service providers can sometimes fall apart. Our previous research suggests that “specialist support workers” within community mental health services may help older people living with dementia or with complex mental health needs to accept social care. However, these specialist support workers often say that they do not have the chance to learn or share knowledge, strategies and skills between themselves.

Our earlier research also found that the training available is often unsuitable for this group of workers because it is either too basic and does not account for their specialist knowledge from their experience in mental health work; or else too advanced as it expects them to have professional qualifications. The aim of this study is to develop a way of helping support workers to share and develop their knowledge of ways of reducing resistance to care. This will be based on what we are currently learning in the ‘Helping Older People Engage in Social care project’ (or ‘HOPES 1’).

The learning will be designed following three stages:

1) Describing what the new learning will include: We will examine what has already been written about developing learning for support workers, particularly what we know about its content and structure. We will also speak to practitioners in this area to ask them what should be included in the learning, how it should be delivered and what format it should take.

2) Co-producing the learning: We will combine the findings from (1), together with learning from the HOPES 1 study, to create a new learning resource. This will be achieved through a workshop with practitioners in support work, and through discussions with service users. Follow-up interviews will allow further detailed work on what we have learned.

3) Delivering the learning: The learning will be delivered in at least one site. This will allow us to see how this works in real situations. We will explore in more depth how people feel about delivering and receiving this intervention. This will allow us to develop the learning further. By the end of this short study we will have a prototype of this learning intervention which we can make available to the social care and mental health care sectors. If the initial delivery of the intervention and prototype are found to be suitable during this project we will then conduct a more in-depth evaluation.

The HOPES 2 Study, Helping older people with mental health needs to engage with social care: Enhancing support worker skills through a prototype learning and development intervention, is led by Dr Louise Newbould and Dr Mark Wilberforce (University of York) with Dr Kritika Samsi (HSCWRU), Gill Gregory, Ewan King, Wendy Mitchell, and David Niman.

It is funded by the NIHR School for Social Care Research.

Action on Elder Abuse is now Hourglass

Richard RobinsonAction on Elder Abuse recently relaunched as Hourglass. As a research team we at HSCWRU have long taken a strong interest in this area, so we are very pleased to post this piece by Richard Robinson, CEO of the charity, in its new guise, and as it nears its 30th birthday. (760 words)

On 24 March 2020, as a nationwide lockdown was announced in a bid to protect UK citizens from the coronavirus pandemic raging across the world, Action on Elder Abuse relaunched under the name Hourglass.

While the timing was extremely challenging, the rebrand was a necessary effort to mark the start of the charity’s new course as a modern, public-facing organisation building on our almost thirty years of experience. If we were to modernise and become sustainable as a charity, we had to redefine ourselves so that we could successfully champion safer ageing and break down the barriers that foster age-related vulnerability.

The Hourglass mission is simple: end the harm, abuse and exploitation of older people in the UK. Continue reading

HSCWRU researchers have a ball at the British Society of Gerontology 2019 Annual Conference in Liverpool

Caroline Norrie, Katharine Orellana and Laura Cole report from BSG 2019. (725 words)

HSCWRU researchers enjoyed two and a half days of stimulating presentations, symposia and keynote speeches at the British Society of Gerontology’s (BSG) 2019 Annual Conference held this year in Liverpool. The 48th BSG annual conference was entitled Resilience and Living Well in Local Communities and took place from 10 to 12th July at the University of Liverpool.

Keynote speakers presented on each day. Professor Gill Windle from Bangor University kicked off the conference with a discussion about resilience in later life – and the uses and abuses of this myth/metaphor/or measure. Professor Frank Oswald from Goethe University in Germany discussed environmental gerontological perspectives and the types of research studies that arise from these approaches. Professor Chris Todd, joint lead of the NIHR Policy Research Unit – Older People and Frailty, discussed his aim of using an ‘equality lens’ in the setting up and undertaking of work in this recently formed team together with Newcastle University and the London School of Economics. Continue reading

Older People’s Health and Social Care: LIVING WITH CHOICE & CONTROL?

Dr Joan RapaportVisiting Research Fellow at the NIHR Health and Social Care Workforce Research Unit, Dr Joan Rapaport, reports from the 11th Annual Joint Conference from Age UK London and NIHR HSCWRU and Making Research Count (MRC) at King’s College London. It was held on 7 March 2019 at the Guy’s campus of King’s. On Twitter: #olderpeople11 (3,328 words)

Welcome

Joint chairs Professor Jill Manthorpe, Director of HSCWRU, and Paul Goulden, CEO of Age UK London welcomed nearly 100 people to the 11th Annual Joint Conference. The packed room included social workers, health care workers, researchers, and a diverse cross-section of ageing activists, users of services and their family carers, drawn from London’s older population.

Paul was pleased to report that since the last conference that London had signed up to the World Health Organization’s ‘Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities’. Network members are committed to promoting healthy and active ageing and a good quality of life for older people. Many of the presentations and debates during the day addressed aspects of this theme. Continue reading

Resilience II: Older People and Social Care

Joan RapaportDr Joan Rapaport was inspired at a conference organized by the Social Care Workforce Research Unit at King’s College with London Age UK London and Making Research Count, that was also supported by the British Society of Gerontology. She provides her views of the event. Presentations are available on the conference website. (1,282 words)

In his welcome, Paul Goulden, Director of Age UK London explained that the conference was the second half of the Annual Joint Conference which had been held in March but was curtailed because of snow storms. This was indeed an event that had tested everyone’s resilience and explained why this conference was being held again thanks to the speakers and to the overall organizer, Jess Harris.

Paul Goulden, Daniel Webster, Lynne Phair and Dave Martin at the conference in Bloomsbury

Paul Goulden, Daniel Webster, Lynne Phair and Dave Martin at the conference held at Age UK London’s offices in Bloomsbury on 29 October

Using the Sit&See Tool to capture and celebrate Care and Compassion for Older People: Lynne Phair, Independent Consultant Nurse and Expert Witness

When investigating an allegation of hospital neglect, a manager had asked Lynne: ‘How do I know if staff are caring and compassionate?’ This started her on the road that ultimately led to the development of the Sit&See Tool, designed to capture care and compassion. Continue reading

Intergenerational event at Portcullis House

Charlotte Bice (17 years) and Jessica Bice (16 years), with their grandmother, Joan Rapaport, PhD took part in an intergenerational workshop at Portcullis House, 24 August 2018. The afternoon involved discussing different approaches that the young and older generation may adopt to achieve a successful outcome in resolving community challenges. The event was presented by The Way Ahead Engagement Project in association with the City of London, City Bridge Trust and Age UK London. (400 words)

Reflections on the day

‘This has been an enjoyable event’. ‘Great day’. ‘Ninety-nine per cent of the population should have this’.

We were excited to be right by the Houses of Parliament, to be sitting in the room where Select Committees hear evidence and to be working in a group to consider how we might help to improve our local amenities. The presentation How Parliament holds Government to account gave us a clear understanding about the respective roles of Parliament and Government, the duties of our MP and the work undertaken by a range of parliamentary groups. We were also told that if our MP failed to respond to a particular concern we could attend the Houses of Parliament and register our query on a green card. Our MP would then be obliged to stop what they were doing to come to see us in person! Continue reading

Newly published in Ageing & Society: ‘Day centres for older people – a systematically conducted scoping review of literature about their benefits, purposes and how they are perceived’

Katharine OrellanaKatharine Orellana is a Research Associate in the Social Care Workforce Research Unit in The Policy Institute at King’s. (479 words)

Day centres for older people have been an integral part of social care in England since the 1960s. Recently, attention has focused on providing individualised support for older people with care needs. The relevance and desirability of group services, such as day centres, are questioned. Many are closing.

Our newly published review of the literature about day centres covers what people say about them and reports the evidence on centres’ benefits and purposes. Focusing on centres that do not specialise in the care of older people with dementia and covering the period 2005-17, it highlights both what is known and the gaps in evidence about these services. Continue reading

Home care workers supporting people with dementia at end of life

John WoolhamJohn Woolham is Senior Research Fellow at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit. (560 words)

The latest seminar in the current Perspectives series focused on research with older people took place on Monday 9 July. Kritika Samsi from SCWRU and Tushna Vandrevala from Kingston University presented findings from their research into how home care workers support people with dementia towards the end of their life. Their study investigated the experiences of home care workers working with people with dementia who were living in their own homes, the challenges they face, how these are managed and their views of the contribution of their work. Their presentation was based on semi-structured interviews with 30 care workers and 13 managers from 10 home care agencies in London and the south east of England. It was funded by Dunhill Medical Trust. Continue reading

An alternative approach to ageing

Today, we are posting the press release from the national charity, University of the Third Age, as it publishes a report that takes a fresh look at ageing. (409 words)

The U3A (University of the Third Age) has released research today which details a sustainable and positive approach to ageing built on group learning, skill sharing and volunteering.

The report Living Life, Extending Horizons, Challenging Conventions is based on the findings of a literature review, together with the results of a member survey and a series of focus groups around the country.

Sam Mauger, Chief Executive of the Third Age Trust (which supports U3As in the UK) said, “We think it is time to move away from the current public debate on ageing which is largely predicated on a deficit and dependency approach. Continue reading