People in England can now expect to live for far longer than ever before, but these extra years of life are not always spent in good health, with many people developing conditions that reduce their independence and quality of life.
Ageing Well is a priority for the NHS and the national NHS Ageing Well programme focuses on how we care for our population in the community. It’s part of the NHS long term plan which was published in 2019 but more recently the national COVID-19 response and ongoing recovery has also highlighted the importance of providing crisis care within the community to prevent avoidable hospital admissions and accelerate the treatment of people’s urgent care needs closer to home.
Preventing avoidable hospital admissions is not just about bed management and managing increasing demand, as important as these are. But research is clear that even a short stay in hospital leads to physical and mental deconditioning, particularly for older people. Deconditioning refers to changes in the body that occur after a period of inactivity, such as bedrest or a sedentary lifestyle. It can lead to people finding it difficult to accomplish normal daily activities and remain independent.
Keeping people well at home is the ultimate aim of the NHS Ageing Well programme. There are 3 elements to the programme.
This is about ensuring that rapid crisis response care and reablement is available to all people within their homes or usual place of residence, including care homes.
A 2-hour crisis response is now available across Cornwall. Members of the public cannot access this service directly. Contact 111 (or 999 in an emergency) where callers will be referred to the most appropriate service for their needs.
Focused on improving the health care provision of care home residents.
Anticipatory care is about supporting people to proactively manage their health conditions and avoid a health crisis.
Underpinning all of this is a focus on health promotion and prevention. The NHS Long Term Plan includes priority commitments to support people keeping healthier for longer, maximising the opportunities that patient contact brings to not only treat people but prevent them from getting ill in the first place.
For many of us, our life span, the length of our life, is getting longer. Unfortunately, our health span, the number of years we spend in good health, able to live an active and independent life, is not keeping pace.
Many older people are now living with one or more long term conditions with often complex health and care needs. But it does not have to be this way. Whilst environmental and economic factors play a part in how we age and are often not in our control, one of the biggest factors associated with ageing is lifestyle.
Promoting a healthy lifestyle, supporting people to make healthy choices and take responsibility for their health, is now an integral part of the NHS. If you have an appointment with any health care professional we encourage you ask them about ways that you can live longer and better.
“The need for a revolution in the way we think about ageing was evident long before COVID but the COVID pandemic and the impact of lockdown has increased the awareness of the need to think and act differently.” Sir Muir Gray
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