It seems the tide may be turning on the way older people are treated in the NHS, with the need to develop and improve this important area of care at last being acknowledged and acted on. There were two announcements this week that gave me hope that change is coming.
One is that the first national programme for nurses to develop specialist expertise in the care of older people has begun. The Older Person’s Nursing Fellowship at King’s College, London is open to band 7 and 8 nurses, and the initial course has launched with 24 places.
The fellowship, funded by Health Education England, is being seen as the first initiative of its kind to develop highly skilled nurses with specialist expertise in the care of older people. It is an acknowledgement of the complexity of the care this group needs.
In the same week the NHS Confederation announced it is launching an independent commission on improving urgent care for older people. Leaders and experts from across the acute, primary, community and social care sectors, commissioners, patient groups and older people’s advocates will together put forward patient-centred, evidence-based solutions to be practically applied in local health and care settings.
The commission will look for examples of best practice to inform development of its report and recommendations. The final report will be published at the end of the year, with the confederation then rolling out a programme of practical activities to implement the recommendations at local level.
These are small but essential steps on the road to ensuring that care of this complex group is given the recognition it needs and is delivered by those who understand its complexities and have the knowledge and expertise required.