Ahead of his presentation at the 27th EAHM Congress in Portugal last month, September 26 to 28, IFIC’s CEO Dr Nick Goodwin wrote an article for the Daily Congress publication, about ‘Ageing and Successful Healthcare Change’.
“Over the next 20 years, the proportion of people aged 65 or over in OECD countries is expected to rise to almost 25 per cent of the population. This longevity is a cause for celebration, but it also brings with it new challenges as demand for health and care services has grown. However, for people living with such complex health and social care needs, care is often poorly provided and coordinated. The continued and disproportionate focus on specialized and disease-based curative care models undermines the propensity of health systems to provide universal, equitable, high-quality and economically sustainable care. By missing the opportunity to promote health and prevent complications, older people’s care has become more complex and costly.
Pressing issues include:
- Access, co-ordination and continuity problems in the management of care;
- Frequent interactions with care providers, including high levels of care transitions within and between systems and settings;
- Increasing demand amongst older people living for services that meet their: physical and mental health disabilities (including dementia); multiple and/or long-term co-morbidities; ongoing care and support amongst the frail with limited abilities in going about their daily life; long-term and end-of-life care needs;
- Social isolation and loneliness;
- Carer burden and stress; and
- Elder abuse
There is a need for a fundamental change in the way health services to older people are provided. Many care systems across the world are therefore adopting a range of new care delivery strategies. Effective strategies include:
- Enhancing service co-ordination and care continuity;
- Strengthening services provided in the home environment, and in primary and community care settings, to improve access to needed health care services;
- Developing integrated approaches in the work of care providers and professionals in order to achieve, for example, team-based working between health and social care, across primary and hospital care, or to integrate physical and mental health care;
- Improving the clinical quality of the patient journey to improve experience and satisfaction, with a specific focus on care transitions from hospital to home; and
- Working with older people, their families and local communities to strengthen social networks, enable independent living, and focus on an older person’s personal health and wellbeing with dignity and respect
Accelerated ageing has exposed significant weaknesses in access to care, in insufficient human resources, in the lack of skills and capabilities to deal with new problems, in the lack of available funding, and in effective system stewardship and governance. Nothing less that radical and transformation change is needed which will require more integrated health and long-term care services that focus on promoting active and health ageing in the community.”