International experts converge in West Midlands for conference on care project for older people

Posted on 19 August 2015 (Permalink)

International policy makers, researchers and health experts involved in care for older people will be coming together in the West Midlands for a two day meeting to discuss the EASYCare project, its local implementation and the vision of a world with an engaged, independent and empowered older population.

Led by Professor Ian Philp CBE, Deputy Medical Director for Elderly Care at Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust and former national Tsar for older people, the EASYCare project is transforming lives of older people around the world through use of a unique assessment instrument that can be used to identify the concerns of older people and their families about their health and care needs, mobilising a response based on their priorities for support, information and advice.

The EASYCare instrument is a nationally accredited, evidence-based assessment tool used to systematically identify and respond to unmet health and care needs of older people in a practical and reliable way. It consists of 49 items covering seven key domains about physical health, social care needs and mental wellbeing concerns.

Underpinned by 25 years of research which continues to be integral to the work of EASYCare, the project is achieving widespread use in practice as EASYCare information obtained about population needs can be used to develop and promote better care services for older people.

As well as providing an overview of EASYCare the meeting, on 20 and 21 August in Solihull, will include an expert panel session focusing on the development of local approaches for the challenge of supporting an ageing population, and exploring how this could involve the wider business community. This will be further supported by a “World Café” event, enabling delegates to share their advice and experience in promoting the health, independence and wellbeing of older people. Delegates will also consider how EASYCare is being piloted in the Solihull area and discussing any further opportunities.

EASYCare network members from all six World Health Organization regions will be attending the event, including the African region (Uganda), the Americas (Brazil, USA and Costa Rica), South-East Asia (India), Europe (the Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland and Turkey), the Eastern Mediterranean region (Iran), and the Western Pacific region (China), as well as local acute trust, community trust, primary care, mental health and council staff and community members.

Professor Ian Philp said: “Most older people continue to contribute to their communities and family life, adding value to society. However, with ageing, threats to health, independence and wellbeing emerge. If these are ignored, unnecessary dependency is created, leading to higher costs to families and society and reduced quality of life in old age.

“The EASYCare project addresses this challenge by promoting widespread use of the EASYCare Instrument and the flexible, person-centred approach that surrounds its adaptation for use in a variety of settings, including training, guidance, information systems development and impact assessment. However, the EASYCare approach reaches beyond the use of this assessment tool to encompass a range of guiding principles aimed to help introduce and embed the person-centred approach, ensuring that an appropriate system of care and follow-up surrounds the use of the assessment tool.”

Dr Christopher Parker CBE, Managing Director of West Midlands Academic Health Science Network, which is sponsoring the event and its accompanying civic reception, said: “We are delighted to be sponsoring this international event, held on our own doorstep in Solihull.

“As an Academic Health Science Network, one of our priorities is wellness and healthy ageing, and we are developing this work through our involvement with the EASYCare project. We hope that the input from the international and local delegates over the two days contributes to the development of the Solihull pilot, which we can then roll out regionally to support older people, as well as their assessors and trainers and organisations such as strategic boards and NHS commissioners. In doing so, we will be helping more older people across the West Midlands, and their friends and families, continue to live healthy, fulfilling and productive lives.”