Living Longer, Staying Healthy Longer, Remaining Independent Longer.

Most of us do not wish to spend our last years or months in residential care and with some forethought and planning, for many this need no longer be where we end up. The 10 most common reasons for admittance to residential care are known and whilst some are probably beyond our individual control some are not, for example, dental care, or lack of it, is a top 10 reason for going into residential care as are problems with feet and incontinence these 3 are generally treatable if dealt with promptly. When an elderly person enters hospital they can become disorientated and ‘institutionalised’ very quickly, in this state they are then asked to consider their options for the future, many are confused and later state they felt pressurised by family or hospital staff to enter residential care. Yet there are other options. A far wider range of support exists than ever before for older people and it is best to consider the options well before they may be needed. Southend Council can advise all residents on these options including those that will not be eligible for state funding. They include adapting one’s own home and how that might be funded, buying in care for yourself, either through the Council’s providers or privately, accepting a personalised care budget and spending it as you or your family see fit to meet your needs best, telecare, extra care housing or through an intensive 6 week re-ablement programme aimed to get you back where you were before you had the problem for example before a stroke or a broken limb. My portfolio includes health and whilst we are working alongside the PCT and Director of Public Health to close the health inequalities gap we are now also looking at the 10 reasons why people get admitted to residential care and what we can do to help residents remain independent and healthier for longer. Some of the obvious ones are better information for those in middle age, better NHS dentist coverage, foot clinics, better information around incontinence and urinary tract infections and closer working with GP’s to promote healthier lifestyles etc. We also need to consider access to GP’s, many elderly are admitted to hospital on a Friday afternoon- why? Could it be because the local surgery will not be open over the weekend and GP cover will have to be provided via a Locum? The new Health and Wellbeing Board that should come about as a result of the NHS white paper will be a useful tool for bringing all the necessary parties around one table to move this agenda on and improve the outlook for each of us as we get older. Only last month we invited the local GP’s into the council to discuss how we could move forward (this was the first time that anyone can remember that the Council has directly discussed issues with GP’s) and several suggestions are now being put into practice.. I want to cut the jargon out of our strategies, deal with the issues that we can influence and use my offices to promote those that require the hospital or GP’s to address. I want simple targets that all can understand, that will improve life for the elderly and most of all I want residents to be involved in their own care and decisions.

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