ADDING LIFE TO YEARS
ANNUAL REPORT 2002-03
CHAPTER 7: CONFERENCE JUNE 2003
Following the publication of the Adding Life to Years report, an Implementation Group was set up to monitor developments and the impact of change across Scotland to turn the report's recommendations into a series of specific actions.
The Implementation Group held its first conference in Dundee on Tuesday, 10 June 2003, at which it discussed progress with the full range of interests involved in meeting the healthcare needs of older people.
There were two plenary sessions on promoting healthy ageing and improving the journey of care and the following six workshops:
Valuing older people - older people's perspective on major health programmes: CHD, stroke and cancer
Ensuring oder people's voices, as patients and carers, are heard
Promoting positive mental health in older age
Managing without the acute hospital
Step up, step down: avoiding delayed discharge using innovative health care to meet the needs of older people; from community hospitals to nursing home high-dependency beds
A good death: optimal care for all at the end
One of the main points arising from the plenary discussion at the end of the conference was the need for proper levels of staffing. There were concerns about whether staffing levels had been looked at when the Joint Futures agenda was put in place, as there was an acute shortage of staff to implement that agenda. There was also an issue about viable and appropriate terms and conditions of service for those looking after older people.
The conference was advised that the Joint Future agenda was about promoting joint working, and developing more flexible roles so as to make better use of existing staff. It is accepted that it is labour-intensive to look after older people, whose numbers will increase while the number of younger people declines. It will therefore be a continuing challenge to find people willing to work in care services, and that includes looking at the reward package as well as making better use of existing staff.
In his summing-up the Chief Medical Officer made the point that older people do not want to be treated differently from anyone else. They are the mainstream business of NHSScotland. That had a down-side however: it meant that there was no budget for implementation of improvements, and could lead to a lack of focus on implementation.
There are nevertheless important issues for older people which need to be taken forward in terms of healthy ageing, in the strategies relating to major health problems, in surveillance and in standard setting.