Urgent care for older adults

The NHS Confederation has launched an independent commission focused on improving urgent and emergency care for older adults

26 Mar 2015 by Ryan O'Hare

The NHS Confederation has launched an independent commission focused on improving urgent and emergency care for older adults both within and outside of the hospital setting.

The group, which represents hundreds of organisations providing NHS services, will bring together representatives from hospitals, community services and local government to consider best practice examples.

The confederation has previously produced guidance around services for older adults, including its 2012 guidance on preventing falls. The serious health burden of falls, which may often involve a visual component, led to the College of Optometrists publishing its own Focus on Falls report last year, which highlighted the need for vision assessment to help reduce and prevent injury and accidental deaths.

The new commission will also include older people’s advocates and service commissioners. It will ask a number of questions, including what an optimum care service might look like, what skills would be required from healthcare providers and the wider role of health and social care providers.

Chair of the commission, Dr Mark Newbold, said: “Much guidance on improving urgent care services for older people has already been issued, with key principles established and widely agreed, but progress on putting in place new services that require NHS organisations to work together has been slow.”

He added: “By using the broad membership of the NHS Confederation we can address the reasons for this, and produce recommendations that are both clinically guided and supported by all parties in local health communities, including hospitals, local authorities, community providers and General Practitioners. This will greatly assist with implementation of these vital services.”

Chief executive of the NHS Confederation, Rob Webster, said: “We know that older people are not the problem here and deserve dignified care. This commission will bring together all relevant parts of the system to examine the issues and look at workable ways for local health and social care organisations to work together in the interest of these patients, our staff and our organisations.”

Commenting on the announcement, managing director of the Local Optical Committee Support Unit (LOCSU), Katrina Venerus, said: “Problems with eye health in older people and the impact of poor vision are often overlooked despite the fact that failing vision can significantly increase the risk of falls and falls are the most common cause of hospitalisation for people aged over 65.”

Ms Venerus told OT that LOCSU welcomed the commission, adding: “We look forward to engaging with the commission to ensure that eye health is given due consideration and the role that community optical practices can play is fully understood.”

The findings are expected to be published by the end of the year.


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