Healthcare must be transformed to meet the needs of an ageing population, a new report claims.
Health and care services have failed to keep pace with dramatic demographic changes, according to The King’s Fund.
Its report - ‘Making our health and care systems fit for an ageing population’ - calls for a fundamental shift away from a focus on single diseases and towards coordinated care for the individual.
With one in five people in England set to be over the age of 65 by 2030, the authors identify nine individual components of care that need to improve.
One of those key priorities is enabling older people to live well with stable long-term conditions by avoiding unnecessary complications and acute crises.
Another is the suggestion that the NHS and social care should work together more effectively so patients can quickly leave hospital once their treatment is complete in the knowledge there will be good community-based support available.
And when times of crisis do occur, the authors of the report say older people must have fast access to urgent care, including effective alternatives to hospital.
Older people who for example have had a stair lift fitted in their home and receive home-based care visits may be aware of the great advantages to be gained from living independently within their own home as long as there is proper support in place.
A key principle of the report is the idea that with integrated working across the correct mix of health and care services, people experience fewer times of crisis and their individual needs can be met.
The report gives examples of innovative working in various local areas, such as the deployment of 506 ‘dignity champions’ as part of the University Hospitals Birmingham Dignity for Older Patients Project.
It also notes there has been positive feedback about the Gnosall GP surgery in Staffordshire, where patients over 75 get an annual health review, and experienced ‘elder care facilitators’ support patients by helping them navigate the system and draw up care plans.
David Oliver, Visiting Fellow at The King’s Fund, said older people’s services are being transformed in some areas but that needs to happen across the country.
“Marginal change will not be enough; transformation is needed at scale and at pace.”