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Better Care for Older People
I discovered this week that the General Medical Council (GMC) has launched a new online resource to support doctors in their day-to-day care of older patients.
Many people are now living longer resulting in an obvious increase in demand on health services. We see every day that this has created longer waiting times for routine appointments and the increasing number of patients with long term conditions and complex care needs. With the constant focus on providing good care to patients at the end of their lives it means that improving the care of older patients is a real priority for all healthcare professionals.
Responding to Patient Needs
The GMC has worked closely with partner organisations, including the British Geriatrics Society and Age UK, to create Better care for older people. The resource gives practical advice, including from leading clinicians, on how to put older patients first and use GMC guidance to handle their clinical, emotional and psychological needs.
The majority of people over 70 have two or more chronic conditions, along with a greater risk of frailty, which affects one in ten people over 65 and up to half of people aged over 80. Doctors need to be able to respond clearly, effectively and compassionately to their needs, and this new GMC resource is designed to help support patients in being active participants in their own care.
New Online Resource
The GMC have developed the online resource into three themes:
- Equal access to care
- Providing good care for older people
- Working in partnership with older people
Since healthcare services can be difficult to access and we must recognise the importance of meeting basic care needs there are tools, articles and stories to help provide fair access and compassionate care, whilst working alongside families and carers.
What does this mean?
Doctors will need to acquire the skills and knowledge, including improving effective communication styles in order to become more skilful in recognising co-morbidities and frailty.
There will also be greater emphasis on joined up working between primary, community and secondary care. Doctors will find themselves working in much larger and multi-agency teams. This new way of working, consistent with the complexities of older people with multiple long-term conditions and frailty, will be encapsulated in the Coalition for Collaborative Care’s care and support process.
Contract Changes to Support Care for the Elderly
We have already seen steps to improve the care provided to the elderly. One of the new GP Contract changes brought in this year was for all patients aged 75 and over to have a named, accountable GP. Another new contract change was the introduction of the Unplanned Admissions Enhanced Service, placing emphasis on practice availability to patients at risk of hospital admission.
It is important that we play our part in the redesign of healthcare systems, particularly to improve the care we currently provide for the elderly.