Friday, 19 February 2010

How do we pay for care?

The debate about the future of social care in England has reached a (another?) critical place this week with high-level discussion between care providers and charities, the Labour party and the Lib Dems. The Conservatives are currently refusing to take part, apparently over the issue of having the option of a compulsory fee on the table - what a pity, when we so desperately need an honest and wide-thinking discussion right now, before political and media interest moves on.

I believe that people generally do want to find a better way to provide and pay for care, especially if they have been involved in trying to give it or organise it. We are currently analysing data from an on-line survey about the 'price of old age', from which it is already clear that most of the people who took part in that survey think there is a middle ground between state organised and private provision where a fair balance of responsibility can be negotiated. But it's also clear that many people have too little information about what help is available and what care might be needed in certain conditions, so it's hard to get a consensus view on where that fair balance lies.

I think that we are just beginning this national conversation and there will have to be changes and adjustments in the years ahead, but we need two things now: better access to information for people who find themselves needing care services, and more direct routes for people to raise problems when the services on offer don't match what people actually want.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Raising the profile of LGBT ageing and later life

LGBT Lives
Symposium on Ageing
Raising the Profile of LGBT Ageing and Later Life

As part of the seminar LGBT lives: The biographies and life course of sexual/gender dissidents, the organisers would like to invite papers for a parallel session devoted to exploring issues of LGBT ageing and later life. The session will include up to 10 short (ten minutes) papers that directly address LGBT ageing and later life. Contributors will be asked to provide written versions of their papers and these will be compiled in the form of a briefing to be circulated to relevant stakeholders in Scotland. Papers may take any form including:

• Case-studies from practice or research
• ‘Think-pieces’ on how LGBT ageing is understood and responded to
• Summaries of research
• Reviews of the literature
• Methods used to investigate LGBT ageing and the challenges faced

Papers detailing work from across the UK (and beyond) are invited, however the organisers particularly welcome contributions detailing work undertaken in Scotland or with direct relevance to the Scottish context. Deadline for submission is Monday 29 March 2010.

This event is free to attend.

Further details here

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Ageing issues and end of life care

There has been a lot of activity in the press of late about care and treatment in later life. It was interesting to hear Terry Pratchett's views about assisted death/suicide, see for example:

Assisted suicide/death is very topical, but of greater concern to me is how we work towards improving care in later life. It was interesting to read recent press reports and the Royal College of Physicians report on oral feeding difficulties towards the end of life. See:

This would not seem to be a new challenge as Florence Nightingale in her Notes on Nursing wrote:
‘Every careful observer of the sick will agree in this that thousands of patients are annually starved in the midst of plenty, from want of attention to the ways which alone make it possible for them to take food. This want of attention is as remarkable in those who urge upon the sick to do what is quite impossible to them, as in the sick themselves who will not make the effort to do what is perfectly possible to them.’ (Nightingale 1860, p. 63)

It will be interesting to see whether the recent press interest in ageing issues in anyway impacts on quality of care.

Lifelong learning and technology project

Members of CABS are currently leading a lifelong learning and technology project. The OPT-in project (Older People and Technological innovations) is funded by Grundtvig through the European Union Lifelong Learning Programme.

The project is led by a team from The Open University including: Nursing, Health & Social Care and the Centre for Widening Participation and involves collaboration with Age Concern Milton Keynes and colleagues from the Faculty of Maths, Computing and Technology. The other project partners are:
The Department of Nursing and Midwifery University of Stirling (Highland campus) - Scotland
The Institute of Gerontology at The Technical University of Dortmund - Germany
The Verwey Jonker Institute - The Netherlands
The Faculty of Health Sciences at The University of Maribor - Slovenia

Our project website is: