A new online system, Better Care for Older People has just been launched which aims to improve the care which doctors can offer to older patients.
The tool has been developed by the General Medical Council in conjunction with some of the UKs older peoples charities including the British Geriatrics Society. It aims to give doctors the resources they need to improve the care given to older people and to help older people to look after themselves better.
The resources include video interviews with older people, in which they describe their own experiences of appointments with and treatment from doctors and what matters to them as patients, such as being able to see their own doctor. Some patients complain of being made to feel unimportant, with the perception that it is because of their age.
One of the aims of the Better Care guide is to reinforce the message that patients must be treated equally, with no discrimination on the basis of age or for any other reason. Other features of the online tool are tips, articles and case studies, all aimed at giving doctors the information they require to provide the service that older patients want and need.
Resources cover a wide range of areas, from recommendations for hospital treatment to exercise for the elderly and lifestyle choices, right through to end of life care. Other information available includes contact details for support services which are relevant to older people and their families.
The new tool for doctors has been welcomed by the National Clinical Director for the Frail Elderly NHS England, Professor John Young, who commented, "this new GMC resource will help them support patients in being active participants in their own care." Two thirds of NHS patients are in the over 65 age bracket, so improvements in care of older people could make a significant difference to the lives of many people.
Most people over the age of 70 have at least two long term conditions, but this does not mean that they value their health any less. In many cases it is simply that they have acquired age-related conditions.
Since older people now constitute around two thirds of all NHS patients it is essential that the medical profession learns how best to help the older sector. Better Care for Older People will help to ensure that the older generation are treated with dignity and respect and given the care they need.