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A practitioner network to help older people

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A new network of practitioners working with older people has been set up in Wales, called the UK Practitioner Network on Ageing (PNOA).

A new network of practitioners working with older people has been set up in Wales, called the UK Practitioner Network on Ageing (PNOA).

This originally began in 2000 as an informal email group of nurses working with older people and was set up as a result of the concern expressed by a nurse who had reported elder abuse in her workplace and had tried to deal with it unsupported.

She also had drive and a concern to improve practice in older peoples? health and social care. This was matched by the National Assembly?s intention to produce a Wales? Strategy for Older People.

PNOA is independent and has an initial steering group that includes people from housing, older people membership organisations, telecare and assistive technology, education and research, independent financial advisers, nursing, social work, psychology, physiotherapy, care home management, law, public health and well-being, and local government.

We are now in the process of preparing to register as a charity and already have a small group of willing and passionate trustees.

The network?s main object is 'to act as a strong focus for practitioners interested in and/or working with older people. It will serve its members, older people and the public by promoting the agreed values and excellence in practice through the generation, synthesis and dissemination of practice and practitioner knowledge.?

The network?s purposes are wide and the group aims to address many issues relevant to older people, not just health and social care.

However, a key purpose is to involve older people as the focus of its activities and bring research much closer to practice and good outcomes for older people. We have agreed underpinning values.

These are the promotion of a positive image of ageing and practice by:
a) Using language when talking with and describing older people that is user-preferred, positive, non-discriminatory and non-medicalised. Positive efforts will be made to challenging labelling, invalidating and stereotypical language such as 'the elderly?.

b) The stated values and principles of dignity, privacy, respect, choice, rights, independence, fulfilment and security in action in our practice and working with older people individually and in groups.

PNOA has also jointly organised a group of seminars on 'Innovation and the Public Service? between June and September 2006. These were devoted to specific care issues concerning older people.

In early December chairperson Lorraine Morgan was invited to Dublin to present the development of PNOA to a new Irish government-supported initiative of a Knowledge Community on Ageing in Ireland. We now have groups in each nation of the UK as well as a developing one in Ireland.

The website is the key resource for PNOA and relies on the voluntary members sending in their practice initiatives. PNOA also sends out regular information to members.

There is public access to the website and once PNOA is set up as a charity there will be a membership database and member area web pages. There is a website list of subject areas and information is regularly updated.

One of the problems the network hopes to address is better sharing of information between professionals, and providing evidence and results on its website. For example, community nurses often have to visit an isolated older person, so it would be useful if they had access to a 'one stop? resource, which they could consult around help, support and information for the person they are visiting.

A more objective way of pooling information on services and a joined up approach to care and support is needed. People requiring a service should not be labelled with just one requirement. All peoples? requirements for services are complex and inter-related.

This kind of information will be available on the PNOA website in time. There is a large list of interest areas already and we are waiting to hear from older people and practitioners with examples of good practice to put in the areas on each website page.

Anyone interested in knowing more about PNOA, joining the network (which is free), partnering with PNOA to support an event, or wishing to display their information on PNOA?s website, should visit http://www.pnoa.org.uk, call 029 20262760 or email: info@pnoa.org.uk

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