Integrated care vital to improving older people’s health

Closer working between health and social care services is key to keeping Kingston’s growing elderly population well, says the borough’s public health chief.

Integrated, cost-effective and high-quality local services must strive to help older people stay independent for as long as possible and focus on prevention, according to Dr Jonathan Hildebrand, Kingston’s Director of Public Health.

There are more than 20,500 people aged 65 and over living in Kingston, almost 13 per cent of the population. That is predicted to rise to almost 24,000 by 2021.

In his annual report on the borough’s health, Dr Hildebrand highlights the importance of helping older people to make healthy lifestyle choices and to keep physically, mentally and socially active.

The report looks at a range of issues affecting older people’s physical and mental wellbeing, including diet and social isolation. An estimated 8,000 older people lived alone in Kingston in 2012. This will increase to 9,200 by 2020.

Fewer than ten per cent of people aged 50 and over in Kingston are meeting recommended levels of physical activity.

The report warns that the number of older people suffering alcohol related harm could increase by 50 per cent over the next 20 years if action is not taken.

A range of local action and support has helped many over-65s in Kingston drink less alcohol, quit smoking, eat more healthily, get fitter, and lose weight.

“One of the clear messages that emerges from this report is the importance of addressing lifestyle issues in older people to prevent illness.

“Many older people are active, healthy and independent. But there will be an increasing number of people locally with a range of complex health and social care needs. There is a growing gap between demand for our services and the resources available to us.

“In order to meet people’s needs in these times of financial stringency,

integration between health and social care is vital. Services need to strive to keep people independent for as long as possible and should be taking a preventative approach.”

Dr Jonathan Hildebrand

Read the report: Older People in Kingston – Living Well in Later Life.