Resource for day centres – Guide for adult day centres to ‘unlock lockdown’ safely

Caroline Green and Katharine Orellana, Post-Doctoral Fellows, National Institute for Health Research Applied Research Collaboration South London. (721 words)

On 23 March 2020, most of England’s population was placed into ‘lockdown’ due to the novel Coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic taking hold across the UK. This was an unprecedented move by the government and meant that social care services, including day centres for older people or those with social care needs mostly closed to regular users.

Several months later, the government is taking a step-by-step approach to ‘unlocking’ society, with social clubs and community centres allowed to open again from 4 July 2020. But, with the pandemic not yet subsided, day centres are faced with the task of making their services safe and reducing the risks of infections to service users and staff. This is particularly important for day centres, as they may serve groups of people at risk of being seriously affected by the virus, such as people with underlying health conditions. Continue reading

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

How are older people coping with digital technology during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Dr Nayyara TabassumDr. Nayyara Tabassum is Evidence Officer in the Centre for Ageing Better. (749 words)

Online grocery shopping has made lives very easy. With just a few clicks, you can order everything from a fridge to hand sanitisers (if there’s any in stock!). But I didn’t realise how challenging that could be for some sections of people. A couple of days back, while chatting with my 76-year-old neighbour John, he mentioned how difficult it was for him to place online grocery orders. As a first-time online banking user, his card activity was flagged as suspicious and by the time he managed to get verified, he lost his delivery slot.

There are so many older people like John who have had to rely on using the internet for the very first time during the COVID-19 pandemic. Banks need to make the authentication processes easier, especially for first time digital shoppers. According to 2019 ONS figures on internet users, almost half the UK population of people at 75 and over (47%) have never used the internet. The fact that John uses the internet at all is quite fortunate. The good news is that internet use in the 65-74 age group is increasing – it rose from 52% in 2011 to 83% in 2019, and the current situation is likely to speed that increase. Continue reading

Is there an ‘optimal’ time for people living with dementia to move to a care home?

Kritika SamsiKritika Samsi, Research Fellow at the NIHR Health & Social Care Workforce Research Unit, introduces the findings from the optimal time study, which she led. (629 words)

Funded by the NIHR School for Social Care Research, this 3-year study investigated what (if any) may be an optimal time for people living with dementia to move to a care home.

A literature review, qualitative interviews and a factorial survey were conducted over the course of 3 years to reveal a complexity of findings around what may be seen as an ‘optimal’ time for a care home move. We found that the ‘right time’ for any move was highly individual, contextual and depended on myriad factors other than symptom severity. These include the wellbeing of the person living with dementia, family members’ ability to support them and the type and availability of care home places. 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

Promoting the importance of human relationships: hospital social work

Jo Moriarty, Senior Research Fellow at the NIHR Health & Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London introduces the new hospital social work report, which she wrote with Dr Nicole Steils and Prof Jill Manthorpe. World Social Work Day is on 19 March 2019 #WSWD2019 is the official hashtag. (602 words)

Mapping Hospital Social WorkThe theme for next week’s World Social Work Day is ‘promoting the importance of human relationships.’  In preparation for this we are launching our report into hospital social work, which was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Policy Research Programme at the request of the Chief Social Worker for Adults, Lyn Romeo.  Lyn has also kindly written the report’s foreword.

The origins of hospital social work lie in the decision made by the Royal Free Hospital in 1895 to appoint Mary Stewart as the first ‘lady almoner’. Her role was to interview people to decide who would be eligible for the free medical treatment that the hospital provided.  Other hospitals soon followed this example and by 1948, the Institute of Almoners had over 1000 active members.[1]  Written in the style of the time, Flora Beck’s textbook for almoners noted that their two key tasks were:

… to determine whether social problems are likely to have a bearing on the patient’s illness. The second is to make the patient feel that here is a person with whom he could, if necessary, discuss his personal difficulties; someone to whom he need not mind admitting any trivial misunderstanding which had been bothering him, and to whom he could reveal serious and confidential problems without embarrassment.[2, cited in 3] Continue reading

Getting the message about assistive technology and telecare: new guidance

John Woolham is Senior Research Fellow at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London. (592 words)

Last week I was invited to speak at the launch of ‘Help at Home – use of assistive technology got older people’ a review of current research evidence published by the National Institute for Health Research Dissemination Centre. My presentation discussed some of the findings from research I’d done last year as part of the NIHR School for Social Care Research funded UTOPIA project, which gets a mention in the review.

This review is timely and welcome. There has been considerable investment by local authorities in assistive technology and telecare at a time of unrelenting austerity. The research evidence to support this investment offers mixed messages, and local authority commissioners don’t have access to research findings, or even if they did, the time to read them. Worse, at least some of the information about telecare’s impact that is accessible is misleading. Local authorities are also under pressure: increasing demand for care and support, particularly from growing numbers of older people, and cuts to adult social care budgets that are unprecedented in their scale.

Is assistive technology and telecare the solution? Local authorities are keen to use it to promote independence, keep people living safely in their own homes and to reduce burdens facing family carers, which will, of course, also save money. These are all worthy objectives, but as the review suggests, more likely to be achieved by local authorities that pay good attention to the infrastructure within which assistive technology is used, rather than just the devices themselves.

The review makes the important point that much research in this field to-date appears to have focused on ‘high end digital technology’ rather than evaluating the impact of more basic technologies to help with everyday life; and more focus on the development of prototype technologies than real world testing. There are also some real challenges laid out for local authorities or other organisations that provide telecare services. For example, it reflects concerns by older people, highlighted in one international study that technology will be used as a substitute for hands on care. This is precisely what is happening in many local authorities in England at the present time. Another challenge from research is the suggestion that assessment and installation are seen as sequential one-off events (‘plug and play’) when getting the best out of it means seeing these as on-going processes, and that even simple technologies should be seen as a ‘complex intervention’. How does this compare with practices in hard pressed local authority adult social care departments at the present time?

Anyone working in this field or who is using, or thinking of using, technology, should find this report contains valuable insights, even if some of them are challenging. Research reviews can be dry-as-dust, of interest only to the scholarly or the assiduous and with little of value to care professionals. This review is readable and relevant. It offers clear summaries of current research evidence and there are also clear messages about what needs to happen for telecare to make an effective, optimal contribution towards the care and support of older people. It deserves to be widely read and for key messages to be addressed in practice.

John Woolham is Senior Research Fellow at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London. John’s presentation from the day.

The author’s own work, cited here, is independent research funded by the National Institute for Health Research School for Social Care Research. The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author and not necessarily those of the NIHR/SSCR, NHS, the National Institute for Health Research or the Department of Health and Social Care.

 

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

Cameos of Care Homes: stories from social care Vanguards

Jess Harris is Research Fellow at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London. She led the Cameos of Care Homes project. (616 words)

Six ‘Vanguard’ areas across England have been developing approaches to enable care homes to better support the increasingly complex health needs of their residents. These six, focusing on ‘Enhanced Health in Care Homes’, were among 50 Vanguard pilot areas (2015 to 2018) tasked with developing models of care that can be sustained and replicated across England, helping the health and social care system tackle financial pressures and rising demands.

A recent National Audit Office (NAO) report has examined the Vanguards’ impact so far, in terms of value for money, and concluded: ‘there are early signs of a positive impact on emergency admissions’. However, at this early stage it cautions that ‘the longterm impact and sustainability of Vanguards is still not proven’. (page 47)

Staff members taking part in ‘Cameos of Care Homes’

Continue reading