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Commission calls for rethink on care of elderly people

BMJ 1997; 315 doi: (Published 25 October 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:1035
  1. Jacqui Wise
  1. BMJ

    The Audit Commission says that the NHS and social services should work together to improve care for older people. It also says that the emphasis should be shifted away from hospitals and residential and nursing homes and towards helping people cope at home to escape the cycle of pressures on the NHS each winter.

    The new report, The Coming of Age, says that hospital admission rates have been rising rapidly. Fifteen years ago one in eight people aged over 75 were admitted to hospital every year, whereas now nearly one in five are admitted. This rise, together with a doubling in the number of older people over the same period, is putting severe pressures on hospitals.

    The report states that hospitals have coped by halving the time spent by older people in hospital. This allows less scope for recovery and rehabilitation, and some older people who could have returned home if they had been given proper preparation are instead going on to residential and nursing homes at higher cost. Social service departments are spending two thirds of their budget on residential and nursing care for older people.

    The report says that if this vicious cycle is to be broken then ways must be found to support people at home, and health and social services must work together.

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