Supporting older people: News roundup January 2021
In the first roundup of news for 2021, we look at vaccinations and lockdown, the future of home care, current and future scams, energy saving, and the disappearance of bank branches.
The latest on Covid-19 vaccinations and lockdown
With the fast-changing nature and spread of Covid-19 and the variety of government reactions, we think the best course of action for our news page is to give you the links to official advice where we can, and let you check the latest guidance for yourselves. Elsewise our information here may quickly become out of date.
When will we get our vaccinations?
Many GP surgeries are pleading with patients not to get in touch to ask when they can have their vaccination. Patients will be contacted in due course, they say. For the latest information about Covid-19 vaccination for older adults, visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-vaccination-guide-for-older-adults
Being vaccinated isn’t the end of the story. Find out what to expect after vaccination.
GP Online has taken a look at where there is the greatest concentration in England of over 80-year-olds who are first in line to receive a vaccination. The news service discovered wide variations in both numbers and proportions of patients across different CCGs. Altogether there are around 2.87 million patients over 80, with just over half a million over 90. In terms of numbers, Kent and Medway tops the list, but over 90s make up just 8% of this large area. On the other hand, 8% of patients are over 80 in the Soutport and Formby CCG area. Sign up for a free trial to see the hot spot map.
Care homes in lockdown
Many care homes have become something of a battleground across the UK as the need to protect older and vulnerable people has prevented many families from visiting their relatives. The measures being taken have varied widely, influenced by national guidance, local authority advice, and the concerns of individual care home owners. Lockdown will mean the shutters closing again (literally in some cases). For what it’s worth, this is the UK (England) government advice on admission and care of people in care homes during Covid-19, but you may well find the home you deal with taking a more stringent approach.
Look after your own mental health
Loneliness and the resultant mental health challenges continue to be an issue for everyone. As a relative of someone who needs support – old and young – you may be putting yourself under a great deal of pressure. The Mental Health Foundation offers ideas for being kinder to yourself in 2021.
Developments in care at home
What do leaders in the care-at-home sector predict will happen to their services in 2021? While the vaccination programme is likely to encourage more families to look for trusted third parties to help care for elderly relatives, the pandemic has highlighted the need for change. Brexit may well reduce the workforce, but in the short term those who have lost their jobs in sectors such as hospitality may be interested in retraining for the care sector. Leaders see a huge need for a different attitude to carers, who have been viewed as unskilled and are often poorly paid.
If you’re interested in the growth of digital technologies within the home care sector, you might like to take a look at a report from Northern Ireland care group ConnectedHealth with EY about how they see technology enabling better care at home. Case studies include non-invasive health monitoring, easier access to homes for carers, virtual care through video calls, and unexpected movement monitoring.
Scammers never stop
We rarely let a news round-up pass without reference to the latest scams being unleashed on an unsuspecting older population. This includes current online advertisements for signing up to vaccination programmes, for a fee. Time perhaps for a reminder that just because it’s on Google (other search engines are available) doesn’t mean it’s real. Elsewhere, Which? has published a helpful list of banking scams to look out for in 2021. These include impersonation of bank employees by voice, email and text; instructions to switch money into different accounts; and the theft of mobile numbers to take control of bank accounts – sadly enabled by the growing practice of using text messages for added security.
What can really help cut energy costs?
MoneySavingExpert has published a useful guide to what’s a myth and what isn’t when it comes to energy-saving tactics. Keeping the heating on low all day probably isn’t as efficient as only turning it on when you need it. But putting clingfilm – or any transparent layer – on the windows can help to keep heat in. Leaving devices plugged in when not needed, including phone chargers, can add to the electricity bill in small ways. And using individual thermostats on radiators as well as a central thermostatic control can cut bills by up to £75 a year.
The continuing disappearance of bank branches
There’s real concern that those who still want a bank to visit and real cash to use will face increasing difficulty in doing so. The Covid-19 pandemic has driven the move to contactless payments, and now This is Money reports that more bank branches are set to close as lenders face the challenge of flagging profits. More than 200 branches closed in 2020, while the TSB is planning to close 164 more and Lloyds will close another 56. Which? is arguing that the banks need to take access commitments seriously, and that the Financial Conduct Authority should take more interest in what is happening.