Physiotherapy can help improve quality of life for older people with multiple long-term conditions, says NICE

Older people with social care needs and multiple long-term conditions should receive multidisciplinary support, including physiotherapy.

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Physiotherapists should build relationships with the social care and voluntary sectors to offer collaborative care and promote self-management

This is according to a new guideline published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

The guideline makes a number of recommendations. These include:

  • A single named care coordinator should ensure the delivery of joint health and social care plans
  • Older people should be involved in planning and managing their own care including the use of personal budgets
  • Health and care workers should empower older people to have choice and control over their health care and leisure activities

Louise McGregor, chair of Agile, the group for chartered physiotherapists working with older people, welcomed the guideline.

She told Frontline: ‘Physiotherapists have an important role in the assessment of social care needs as part of the multidisciplinary team and in partnership with the individual and their carer. We may also have a role in supporting carers who are often older themselves.

‘Building relationships with the social care and voluntary sector in your local area is essential so that a joined up, collaborative care plan can be designed for the individual that promotes self-management and social participation as well as activities of daily living.’

Collaborative working

Department of Health figures estimate that the number of people living with multiple long-term conditions will rise to 2.9 million by 2018, most of them older people.

This rise in demand coincides with a financial squeeze on both health and social care, so NICE recommends that services work more closely together.

The guideline makes specific recommendations for care homes and training their staff to meet the physical, mental and social health and care needs of older people with multiple long-term conditions including falls prevention and managing chronic pain.

Mrs McGregor added that physios ‘have the skills to support and train care workers in the home and care home setting to promote opportunities for movement and mobility, although there are constraints with regards to resources’.

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by Catherine Pope

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