The King’s Fund invited academics, practitioners, policy-makers and representatives from patient and voluntary organisations to the Sir Roger Bannister Health Summit, held at Leeds Castle (Kent) in November 2011, to discuss the care of frail older people with complex health problems.
This King’s Fund briefing summarises the discussions which took place concerning an earlier King’s Fund study into the care of older people in hospital, entitled ”Continuity of care for older hospital patients: A call for action“. These discussions also ranged more broadly to consider home care.
“The care of frail older people with complex needs: time for a revolution“ examines the challenges raised by care of frail older people. There were various threads to the discussions, which have been summarised as follows:
- The model of acute care is geared to treatment and cure; it is not well suited to patients with complex needs.
- Care of older people often lacks social and professional status (relatively speaking).
- The working conditions of nurses, care assistants and home care workers are sometimes poor.
- All staff working with adults should have basic training relevant to care of the elderly because older people account for the majority of patients. This training should include dementia awareness and the skills for working with patients who are cognitively impaired.
- Staff need support; because caring for older people with complex needs is physically and emotionally demanding.
- The summit considered that the team structure(s) and the organisational “climate” of care. Effective managers and staff - in a supportive organisational context – could correct most problems experienced by patients and carers in their own homes and in hospital.
The summit recommended responsibility for the quality of care and outcomes for patients should rest upon the ward manager or community team leader. These persons should have control over resources. Decision-making and actions taken at other levels in the system should support and enable frontline staff in their work.
Cornwell, J. (2012). The care of frail older people with complex needs: time for a revolution. (The Sir Roger Bannister Health Summit, Leeds Castle ). London: The King’s Fund, March 2012. 16p.