Jen Kaye is using her Darzi Fellowship to find a digital solution to the ‘deconditioning pandemic’
Before I started my Darzi Clinical Leadership Fellowship, I knew that population health and health inequalities were important concepts but doing anything about them felt very much out of my sphere of influence. The last 12 months has proven to me that this isn’t the case!
The year-long Darzi Fellowship combines an academic course at London South Bank University with hands-on, system-wide change work. Hosted by Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust, my focus was to lead a population health approach to help older people improve their ‘healthspan’.
Following the first wave of the pandemic, it became clear that there were many indirect effects of Covid-19 – not least increased deconditioning in older people and the unequal impact on different groups (Marmot, 2020).
One of the ways we have tried to tackle this ‘deconditioning pandemic’ is to reach people directly using a new digital health and wellbeing platform tailored to older people. We have been working with over 500 older people and partners across south west London to pilot and develop this new technology.
Older people have historically had greater inequity of access to digital health technology. As such, we’ve collected wide-ranging quantitative and qualitative data to help us understand which groups are and – importantly – are not adopting the technology.
My work this year has really changed my view on what my role is in tackling health inequalities and inequities – from understanding my own biases and how we can start to provide truly personalised care, to raising awareness of people who are not on our caseloads but need our help, to working in partnership with others to help address these issues through action.
Whilst the enormity of tackling these inequalities can be overwhelming. I’ve learned it’s far better to start somewhere with something, however small, and momentum will inevitably build!
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