Since I started Golf In Society four years ago, I’ve really struggled to get referrals from NHS professionals, in particular Primary Care Networks (PCN’s). It’s been a series of disappointments that at times make you consider whether there is demand for your social enterprise.
To me it’s always seemed a “no-brainer” that a service that enables people to improve their physical activity, stimulates cognitive function, increases social engagement and supports primary carers in a single intervention would be embraced by PCN’s.
Despite numerous visits, communication and distribution of leaflets, generating new referrals from PCN’s has remained a challenge.
However, after reading the Ageing Well part of the NHS long term plan it’s made me realise that Golf In Society is perfectly aligned with the ambitions of PCN’s.
It also leads on very nicely from the fact I mentioned yesterday that 1.7 million hospitals days are taken up by older people with dementia.
Before you read the sections taken from the Ageing Well NHS plan, here are two graphics that highlight the positive impact we have on people’s lives every time we deliver one of our golf sessions.
So let’s start by looking at the commitment from PCN’s to the Ageing Well long term plan.
NHS – Primary care networks will from 2020/21 assess their local population by risk of unwarranted health outcomes and, working with local community services, make support available to people where it is most needed.
Based on their individual needs and choices, people identified as having the greatest risks and needs will be offered targeted support for both their physical and mental health needs, which will include musculoskeletal conditions, cardiovascular disease, dementia and frailty. Integrated primary and community teams will work with people to maintain their independence: for example, 30% of people aged 65 and over, and 50% of those aged 80 and over, are likely to fall at least once a year . Falls prevention schemes, including exercise classes and strength and balance training, can significantly reduce the likelihood of falls and are cost effective in reducing admissions to hospital .
That’s the first box firmly ticked. You only have to see our golfers in action to see the difference it makes to their physical well-being and confidence. Here’s an interesting fact for you.
In over a 1000 hour of golf we’ve had no falls that have resulted in a hospital admission. Sure, we’ve had a few trips and stumbles but nothing that a quick brushing down and reassuring conversation hasn’t fixed.
So let’s move on to the commitment to carers who have for too long been the forgotten victims of Ageing Well agendas.
NHS – Carers will benefit from greater recognition and support.
The latest Census found that 10% of the adult population has an unpaid caring role, equating to approximately 5.5 million people in England – around 4 million of whom provide upwards of 50 hours care per week. 17% of respondents to the GP patient survey identified themselves as carers. Many carers are themselves older people living with complex and multiple long-term conditions. We will improve how we identify unpaid carers, and strengthen support for them to address their individual health needs. We will do this through introducing best-practice Quality Markers for primary care that highlight best practice in carer identification and support.
A huge tick in this box. When I started my social mission I’d never really considered the positive impact it would have on the lives of carers. The testimonials we receive from carers say it all.
And finally, let’s take a look at the commitment to dementia support.
NHS – We will go further in improving the care we provide to people with dementia and delirium, whether they are in hospital or at home.
One in six people over the age of 80 has dementia and 70% of people in care homes have dementia or severe memory problems. There will be over one million people with dementia in the UK by 2025, and there are over 40,000 people in the UK under 65 living with dementia today . Over the past decade the NHS has successfully doubled the dementia diagnosis rate and halved the prescription of antipsychotic drugs . We have continued to improve public awareness  and professional understanding. Research investment is set to double between 2015 and 2020, with £300m of government support . We will provide better support for people with dementia through a more active focus on supporting people in the community through our enhanced community multidisciplinary teams and the application of the NHS Comprehensive Model of Personal Care. We will continue working closely with the voluntary sector, including supporting the Alzheimer’s Society to extend its Dementia Connect programme which offers a range of advice and support for people following a dementia diagnosis.
I think this is where our service stands out as a perfect example of how a single intervention can be designed to meet the personal needs of ageing adults and their carers, no matter what challenges come their way later in life.
With over 450 golf sessions successfully delivered and so many lives transformed, I think we’ve earned a few “ageing well stripes”.
The desire to convince PCN’s to commit their support to our innovative intervention and why embracing it makes so much sense burns brighter than ever. It really is a “no-brainer”.