Can system still cope with caring for our elderly?

OAP, Care home, pensioner, Zimmer frame, old, residential
OAP, Care home, pensioner, Zimmer frame, old, residential

WORK has started on outlining new ways of looking after Fife’s elderly, following warnings that the increasing over 65 population could see the local authority and health board buckling under the strain.

Fife Council and NHS Fife have begun work to overhaul older people’s services, in an attempt to have more people cared for at home, and less being treated in hospital or care homes.

Fife’s elderly population is set to boom by 2025.

It will increase by 62 per cent in less than 20 years sparking a need for an additional 350 hospital beds and over 2000 care home places.

Changes

Rona Laing, head of older people services, told the Press changes will begin in October.

She said: “If we can avoid admissions into hospital, that’s what we should be doing.

‘‘We are working together on this to provide elderly people with quality care in their own homes.

“Changes will include teams of nurses and consultants giving care to people in their own homes wherever possible.

‘’In home care we are outlining ways of helping the elderly to retain independence.

More time

‘‘This means carers spending more time with people helping them do everyday things, like dressing themselves or making tea, until they gain the confidence to use that skill again.”

Les Bisset, clinical director at NHS Fife, said the measures could potentially reduce the likelihood of another bed-blocking crisis in Fife.

Voluntary organisations crucial to the care of elderly in Fife have, in general, welcomed the proposals.

John McKendrick, co-ordinator for Fife Elderly Forum, said: “We are looking for more coordinated support.

‘‘A lot of elderly people feel lonely and isolated, so we hope this will help address that.

‘‘There are things going on out there but it’s about trying to pull everything together and point people in the right direction.”

Mary Stewart, manager at Fife Carers Centre, added: “We hope the role of the carer will be taken into account, and carers will be given the support they need. They are absolutely crucial to our society.”