Showing posts tagged with: carer
The emotional impact of a stroke is too often overlooked and should be given the same priority as physical rehabilitation, campaigners say.
A survey of more than 2,700 survivors and their carers in the UK found many had experienced emotional suffering.
More than half of the stroke survivors surveyed said they had felt depressed and two-thirds reported anxiety.
But 42% told the Stroke Association they felt they had been abandoned after their physical needs had been seen to.
Of the carers who took part in the poll, eight in 10 had experienced anxiety and frustration.
Strokes affect about 152,000 people in the UK every year. The brain damage caused by the condition means it is the largest cause of adult disability in the UK.
There are now more than a million stroke survivors in the UK - a figure set to rise because of the ageing population.
Stroke Association chief executive Jon Barrick said: "Stroke leaves survivors and families shocked, shaken and anxious as their lives are often irreversibly changed in an instant.
"Better recognition by health and social care professionals of the impact of stroke will help people to be properly assessed and get the right support."
Social care in England is facing a bleak future despite planned changes as services have been forced into budget cuts, council chiefs say.
Research by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services showed £800m was likely to be taken from the £16bn budget this year.
The group warned it meant "the bleak outlook becomes even bleaker".
It comes as the government looks set to signal later in the Queen's Speech its determination to reform the system.
The draft social care and support bill, which is expected to be included in the speech, will be used to clarify the law on social care and pave the way for the introduction of a cap on the costs people face for elderly care.
Currently anyone with assets of more than £23,250 faces unlimited costs, but ministers have said they want to see lifetime costs capped at £72,000 from 2016.
The result of the move would be that many more people would be brought into the state system. Estimates have suggested an extra 450,000.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the changes to the social care system needed to be made quickly, as the UK faced a "very big challenge" because of its ageing society.
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Carers should be routinely screened for signs of depression by their GP to ensure their health needs are not neglected, doctors' leaders say.
The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) estimates one in every 20 patients registered with a GP practice is providing unpaid care.
About 40% of carers are thought to be at risk of depression or stress because of their caring role.
Carers UK said GPs had a vital role to play in supporting carers.
It is estimated that seven million people in the UK currently provide unpaid care to a sick or disabled child or an adult who could not otherwise live independently.
Many of them are already known to GPs, but the RCGP says more should be done to improve the support and services offered to carers.
It says the "screening" process for depression should involve "a small number of general, non-invasive, questions about mood and mental wellbeing".
The RCGP has also drawn up a list for clinical commissioning groups - groups of GPs that plan local care - to ensure carers' needs are taken into account.
- Improve GP access by allocating routine appointments and vaccinations at convenient times for carers
- Appoint a carers' "champion" in all GP surgeries
- Maintain a carers' register within the GP practice
- Carry out audits to measure improvements in carer support
Dr Clare Gerada, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, said carers often found it hard to admit they were struggling.
"Carers often neglect their own healthcare needs and in many cases it is only a matter of time before they themselves become ill.
"GPs can play a crucial role in identifying potential problems in the early stages and 'screening' for depression is something that many GPs are doing already.
"Commissioners need to invest in supporting carers as a critical asset.
"They already save the public purse £119bn a year and this initiative could save even more by ensuring that carers stay well enough to keep on caring."
Fear and anxiety
Helena Herklots, chief executive of Carers UK, said caring full-time for a family member could leave people cut off from the outside world.
"This isolation, alongside the pressures, fears and anxieties of supporting an ill or disabled loved one can take a serious toll on carers' mental health," she said.
"NHS and social-care services, particularly GPs, are often the first port of call for families with caring responsibilities - they have a vital role to play in identifying carers and helping them access the support they need."
The government's care bill will help people find what support is available to them, a Department of Health spokesperson said.
"We know far too many carers can suffer depression, emotional and physical exhaustion - and it is important that they do not bear this responsibility alone.
"GPs have a critical role to play in identifying people with a caring responsibility and assessing their needs for support, including with depression."
The issue of underweight school children is being missed because of an "obsession" with tackling obesity, a group of researchers has claimed.
An Essex University study, presented at the European Congress on Obesity and involving 10,000 children aged nine to 16, found one in 17 was too thin.
Researcher Dr Gavin Sandercock said weighing too little was more damaging to health than weighing too much.
He warned that society was focused almost exclusively on obesity.
The research team looked at nearly 10,000 children aged nine to 16 in the east of England.
The height, weight, age and gender of the pupils was used to work out how many were too thin.
"Where children are severely underweight, it's often due to an underlying illness for which they'll need specialist medical help”
They showed 6% of all children were underweight, but it was more common in girls (6.4%) than boys (5.5%).
There were also large differences between ethnic groups. Asian backgrounds had the highest prevalence of being underweight at 8.7%.
It can lead to a lack of energy, weakened immune systems and delayed periods.
The problem of underweight children "may be more prevalent than we thought in the UK", said the scientists.
They said the fear of becoming obese, rising food prices, poor diets and a lack of muscle from low levels of exercise may all be playing a role.
"The fact is the UK is obsessed with overweight and obesity - yet it is now accepted that underweight may pose a much greater risk to health."
Dr Sandercock said attention had "absolutely" swung too far towards tackling obesity and warned children who were underweight could be being "missed".
He called for better training for GPs to spot the problem and new ways of helping parents.
Research published earlier this year showed that doctors may be missing the problem. University College London academics interviewed paediatricians at 177 hospitals in England and Wales and found a lack of knowledge about the warning signs of children being underweight.
Dr Hilary Cass, the president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: "Dietary related problems in children are not uncommon, and it's been well documented that childhood obesity is prevalent amongst the UK population.
"Of course we also have to take seriously the fact that there are some children who are under-nourished or struggle with eating disorders."
The Royal College has developed growth charts for children between two and 18 which helps doctors tell if a child has a problem.
Dr Cass said: "Where children are severely underweight, it's often due to an underlying illness for which they'll need specialist medical help.
"But for the majority of cases, if we can get our children eating, choosing and ultimately cooking nutritious food, then we have a much better chance of preventing all sorts of dietary related problems - whether that's being over or underweight."
An experimental treatment to stop the body attacking its own nervous system in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) appears safe in trials.
The sheath around nerves cells, made of myelin, is destroyed in MS, leaving the nerves struggling to pass on messages.
A study on nine patients, reported in Science Translational Medicine, tried to train the immune system to cease its assault on myelin.
The MS Society said the idea had "exciting potential".
As nerves lose their ability to talk to each other, the disease results in problems moving and balancing and can affect vision.
There are drugs that can reduce number and severity of attacks, but there is no cure.
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