Calderdale Council’s Public Health report for 2017-18 has recently been published. The introduction from Paul Butcher, Director of Public Health, is below.
The main headings of the report are as follows:
Older People as Assets
Inequalities in Older Age
Health Care Costs
Falls, substance misuse
Paul Butcher’s intro:
In this year’s report I have focussed on healthy ageing and our changing demographics in Calderdale. I explore its implications for the future of our health and social care system. I make a number of recommendations on how organisations, communities and individuals, need to respond more effectively to the changing age profile in Calderdale.
I have sought to challenge a number of assumptions and generalisations about ageing. I have proposed an ageing well framework to help the NHS, the local authority, businesses and the voluntary and community sector, to support how we adapt to the increasing number of older people in our area.
We need to support the development of age friendly communities, built around suitable homes and neighbourhoods, which are designed to encourage physical activity, be safe and bring people of all ages together.
So people both contribute and are able to receive support from their community, as well as supporting people in later life, to take up opportunities to contribute their skills, knowledge and experience through whatever form that fits.
A place that is kind, resilient, talented, enterprising and distinctive. Voluntary activities, formal civic roles and small acts of neighbourliness all contribute significantly to well being and social connections in later life.
Ageing populations are a public health success story. Longer lives are a benefit to society in many ways, including financially, socially and culturally, because older people have skills, knowledge and experience that benefit the wider population. There is an opportunity to utilise this increased longevity as a resource. We must challenge ageism and a view that retirement is about ‘sitting more and moving less’. However, the opportunities available to each of us as we age will be dependent on one important characteristic –
As life expectancy rises, we must promote the concept of productive healthy ageing, which involves:
• improved health and wellbeing
• increased independence and resilience to adversity
• the ability to be financially secure through work to retirement and build resources
• engagement in social and volunteering activities
• being socially connected with enhanced friendships and support
• enjoying life in good health
• intergenerational connections and contact
As the NHS reaches 70 years old itself, many commentators have talked about the costs brought about by an ageing population. This widespread belief needs challenging. Costs are brought about due to ill health not age per se. As a whole system which includes public, private and third sector organisations, we need to continue our efforts to promote good health throughout our ages, if we want sustainable and effective health and social care for our future generations.
The report does not cover all aspects of ageing, rather it highlights some of the key issues for us to address, Namely our responses to an ageing population, recent local trends in life expectancy and the main reasons for ill health in older age. The report contains a number of positive projects. It contains a number of recommendations, aimed
at policy makers and leaders in Calderdale.
These are three key dimensions of a good later life:
• financial security
• social connections
These are consistent regardless of gender, ethnicity or other socio-demographic characteristics. These dimensions are interrelated and all influence each other. They also have an impact on the extent to which people feel happy, satisfied with their lives, and that their life has meaning and they are in control. Interestingly, a recent study1 revealed the significance of strong social connections and how they help some people to overcome disadvantages, such as poor health or a lack of financial security.
The bottom line is frailty and poor health isn’t inevitable as we get older. It’s the same public health messages as repeated ad infinitum: move more! don’t smoke! and reduce obesity!
I urge all involved to commit to a vision for Calderdale residents, in that they should live long and healthy lives, enjoying an active, fulfilling and independent retirement – in which the ageing process becomes a positive rather
than a negative experience.