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Social care cuts ‘major cause’ of A&E problems

Older people in England are being left “high and dry” by councils cutting back on the care they provide, Age UK says.  Research by the charity showed the numbers getting help had fallen from just over one million three years ago to 850,000 last year.  Age UK said the cuts were one of the major causes behind the growing pressures on A&E units.  But councils said they had been left with little choice because they were “chronically underfunded”.  The overall cut in numbers getting help from councils represents a drop of one-fifth.  But the research – based on an analysis of official figures – also provided a detailed breakdown of which individual services had been cut.

It found between 2010-11 and 2013-14:

  • The numbers getting help at home for tasks such as washing and dressing fell by a third to just over 370,000
  • Day care places have dropped by two-thirds to just under 60,000
  • The numbers getting meals on wheels fell to 29,500 – a decline of 64%

Age UK director Caroline Abrahams said: “Our state-funded social care system is in calamitous, quite rapid decline.  “The more preventive services like meals on wheels and day care are being especially hard hit, leaving the system increasingly the preserve of older people in the most acute need, storing up big problems for the future.  “Hundreds of thousands of older people who need social care are being left high and dry. The lucky ones have sufficient funds to buy in some support, or can rely on the goodwill of family, neighbours and friends. But there are many who are being left to struggle on entirely alone.”  Previous research by the charity has shown there are nearly 900,000 people who do not get any help for their care needs.

“Until recently the impact of the decline in social care has been relatively hidden, but social care is a crucial pressure valve for the NHS and the evidence of what happens when it is too weak to fulfil that function is clear for us all to see,” Ms Abrahams added.  Over the past three months waiting times in A&E units have reached their worst level for a decade with hospitals reporting they are experiencing particular problems trying to discharge old and frail patients because of the lack of support available in the community.

Vulnerable people

Izzi Seccombe, of the Local Government Association, said the system was “chronically underfunded”.  “Councils have protected our most vulnerable people as far as possible, often at the expense of other services, and we will continue to prioritise those most in need.  “However, the combined pressures of insufficient funding, growing demand, escalating costs and a 40% cut to local government budgets across this parliament mean that despite councils’ best efforts they are having to make tough decisions about the care services they can provide.”

But a Department of Health spokeswoman said the April launch of the Better Care Fund – a £5.3bn pot predominantly funded from the NHS to encourage greater integration between health and care – would help.  “We know we need to work differently to respond to our growing ageing population.”  She added the fund would “focus resources on helping people to live independently, which will save money and reduce unnecessary hospital admissions”.

BBC News 21 January

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Why the rising cost of social care cannot be ignored

“I’ve never felt so alone.” Those were the words a man in his 80s used to tell me how he felt, after his wife of more than 50 years was diagnosed with dementia.  His words have stuck in my mind because his experience seems to sum up the stories that too many people tell when they need social care.  A consultant had delivered the life-changing news to this man and his wife, then said, “I’ll see you in six months.” They were handed a leaflet and they left, his wife unable to comprehend what they’d been told so the weight rested on his shoulders.

The diagnosis was delivered by the NHS, but with a condition like dementia you largely step into another world, the world of social care.  Social care is provided by local authorities and only to those with very high needs and limited savings. Everyone else pays for themselves.  We’re talking about the support someone may need with everyday tasks such as washing, dressing and getting in and out of bed. If a person has dementia it is often about keeping them safe.  When I met this man, he had been his wife’s main carer for several years, helped by their daughters. He paid for extra support, but only wanted to leave her with the right person, someone he could trust.

Social care uncertainty

The cost of the extra help was draining their savings, making him worry about how he will cope in the longer term. It is pressure that made him fear for his own health.  However, if we get social care right then it should keep people out of hospital and there’s the rub.  We’ve seen the recent pressures on accident and emergency and what happens to the health service, when there isn’t enough care in place in the community to either prevent problems or to help people recover at home.  Social care certainly isn’t the only reason why hospitals started the year struggling, but it is a significant factor.

BBC News

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Wearable tech may aid sporting injury treatment

You look at a sport like rugby, forward type players are tackling and being tackled multiple times in a training session or a match

Players are tackling and being tackled multiple times in a training session or a match

Wearable tracking devices are set to become even greater sports analysis tools for local athletes thanks to an algorithm developed by WA and Victorian sports scientists and mathematicians.


The researchers recently found accelerometer and gyroscope data from simple wearable tracking devices—in this case a Catapult S4—can accurately classify an activity athletes are doing using a certain algorithm. This finding could eventually help scientists analyse athlete’s movements in real time and gain a better understanding of the forces and injuries they experience. It isn’t just about detecting whether someone has been tackled, but understanding the magnitude of the tackle, Victoria University sports scientist Dr Sam Robertson says. Dr Robertson who initiated the collaboration with Curtin and Deakin Universities, says the information may lead to better injury treatment and prevention.

“You look at a sport like rugby, forward type players are tackling and being tackled multiple times in a training session or a match,” he says. “However it may not necessarily be the number of tackles that is doing the damage—it might be the intensity or magnitude of the tackle.


“With respect to injury, if we understand the types of movements players are undertaking at training then we can better understand how we expect them to respond to these loads.”

The algorithm’s ability to automatically classify training activities does away with the need to have scientists manually tracking athletes. “By using automated classification you take the burden off the practitioner being required to sit there and manually count the number of times a player runs, sprints or is tackled,” he says. Dr Robertson says the findings point to a logical next step in improving the information gained from wearable tracking technology.

“In high-level sport organisations have been obtaining a lot of data from wearable technologies over the last five or ten years,” he says. “It provides a real rich source of data potentially to understand the workloads of what athletes are experiencing.

“But up until recently most of that data has been used at a basic level as far as summary of how fast a player has run and the distance they travel. “We wanted to take that to another level and use the data to work out things like what types of movements people are doing rather than just how far they’re running.”

February 29, 2016 by Hamish Hastie, Sciencenetwork Wa
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National Football League Injuries

NFL injury statistics show numbers of concussions rose 32 per cent in 2015 season

Concussions are a worsening problem for the NFL after league injury statistics released on Saturday (AEDT) showed a 32 per cent jump in the serious head injuries this past season.  Data revealed total concussions suffered in pre-season and regular season NFL games jumped from 206 in 2014 to 271 in 2015, with tighter concussion protocols requiring players to be examined if their status is in doubt.  In regular season games and practices alone, there were 190 concussions documented, a 35 percent leap from 2014.  The news came 10 days ahead of Super Bowl 50, when the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers will meet for the NFL crown in the league’s annual championship decider.

The NFL toughened its concussion protocols and imposed stiffer penalties for blows to the head after there were 261 concussions reported in 2012.  But while the number had dipped for the prior two campaigns, this past season’s numbers show plenty of work remains to be done to protect players from head trauma.  A total of 92 concussions occurred due to contact with another helmet, one more than in 2012 when such impacts led to the rules crackdown and tougher medical standards to force players out of games until they were deemed medically fit by a doctor.  There were 29 concussions attributed to contact with the playing surface, the most in the past four seasons, and 23 due to being hit by the shoulder of an opponent.

Knee injuries were up last season, with 56 anterior cruciate ligament injuries up from 49 last season and 170 medial collateral ligament injuries, up from 139 the season before.  Injuries were down in games played on Sundays and Mondays but up in those taking place on Thursday nights, when teams have had fewer rest days to recover from prior weekend contests.  The injury rate per game was at 5.7 percent on Thursdays compared to 4.8 last season.  In all, 6.6 injuries were sustained in a Sunday or Monday game, down from 7.3 in 2014.

ABC News 30.1.2016

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It's not that some people have willpower and some don't. it's that some people are ready to change and others are not.James Gordon

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