Older people, particularly those with complex and on going needs, often move across service boundaries.
This is often accompanied by disorientation, fear, worry, and uncertainty, and can be ongoing for some time.
In this research, carried out by NHS National Institute for Health Research, the older people often sort to make sense of what was happening to them, in order to cope and adjust to their surroundings. They wanted to be seen as human beings rather than as a problem to solve, and often just good communication or a small gesture from the service provider to try and connect with them, gave them a sense of dignity, made them feel safe in an uncertain place, and could change their feelings towards the whole experience.
Many participants struggle to get even basic information about their health and services, and were often not given much notification of transitions of services.
Getting to know people in service provision roles and to develop relationships, was extremely important in the older person being able to ask for support required. However this was often not the case and people often were not comfortable coming forward to ask for help required, and were more comfortable asking relatives. Poor continuity in care and support arrangements was a commonly mentioned problem.
The transititions between care services are all encompasing for an older person, and this research found that although the physical side was taken care of, but the emotional, psychological and social side of it was often not considered.
The way older people are treated by service providers makes a big difference on their overall feelings towards the experience.
Improvements that were suggested were often not to change the system completely or have a different system, but more to improve the existing system with smaller changes, such as improving the care environment and personal relationships, and easier and earlier access to services was a big priority.
These changes do not require vast amounts of money, but they do require commitment and effort to challenge the existing ways of working that can be deeply ingrained in organisational and professional cultures.
Read the full report at NETSCC