The British Geriatric Society
The success of modern medicine has resulted in many people surviving strokes, heart attacks and cancer when previously they would have died prematurely. This has resulted in an ageing population. With this changing demographic comes the challenge of how to achieve healthy ageing. Sadly many older people are not achieving this, and the numbers of older people living with frailty are rising. People living with frailty often have multiple chronic illnesses, weak muscles, poor mobility, exhaustion and are dependent on others for their care (Clegg, 2013). They are the main users of heath and social care and have high mortality (Shamliyan, 2013). Decisions around care choices are often complex, particularly where patients have dementia or are coming to the end of life. Choices must take into account patient preferences as well as what is achievable and sensible to maintain a good quality of life.
Geriatrics is the specialism that is concerned with the health and social care of older people. It comes from the Greek term geron meaning old man and iatros meaning healer (British Geriatric Society, 2009). The British Geriatric Society was founded in 1947 for the “relieve of suffering and distress amongst the aged and inform by the improvement of standard of medical care for such persons” (British Geriatrics Society, 2009). It is a professional association of doctors, nurses, and allied health professionals, which aims to inform and influence healthcare policy using the expertise of these members. Historically the membership of the British Geriatric Society has been predominantly doctors. However, the complex needs of older peoples requires multidisciplinary assessment and care planning (Welsh, 2014). Such assessments have been shown to improve patient outcomes (Ellis, 2011). In line with this emphasis on multidisciplinary working, the British Geriatric Society has in recent years actively encouraged nurses and allied health professionals to join. Nurses are the professional group that spends the most time with patients, whether in the community or hospital. Their caring role means they have privileged access to patients and their family’s views on what is needed and wanted. Consultant nurses and more recently advanced nurse practitioners (Goldberg et al, 2016) who specialise in frailty are central in leading services for older people and educating the workforce. As such, they must remain central to the decision making process for older people.
I am a registered nurse and joined the BGS society in 2013, and have been actively involved in the Older People’s Nurses and AHP special interest group and the research and academic development committee. Networking with multidisciplinary colleagues who all share my passion to improve the health care of older patients has been stimulating, productive and worthwhile. I have recently had the honour of being appointed deputy treasurer of the British Geriatric Society, a post which in three years automatically becomes the Treasurer and a trustee of the British Geriatric Society. In this position, I will be central to the direction and decisions made by the society and will be able to support the work of integrating nurses and allied health professionals.
British Geriatric Society (2009) Role and work of the BGS. Available at http://www.bgs.org.uk/mnubgsrole/about/administration/composition
Clegg, A. Young, J. Iliffe S., Rikkert M.O. Rockwood K. (2013) Frailty in elderly people. The Lancet 381(9896) 752-762.
Ellis, G. et al. Comprehensive geriatric assessment for older adults admitted to hospital: meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. BMJ 2011; 343: d6553.
Goldberg, S.E., Cooper, J. Blundell, A. Gordon. A.L. Masud, T. Moorchilot, R. (2016) Development of a curriculum for advanced nurse practitioners working with older people with frailty in the acute hospital through a modified Delphi process. Age and Ageing 45: 48-53.
Shamliyan, T., Talley, T.M., Ramakrishnan, R., Kane, R.L. Association of frailty with survival: a systematic literature review. Ageing Res Rev 2013; 12: 719–36.
Welsh, T., Gordon, A., Gladman, J. Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment – a guide for the non specialist. Int J Clin Pract 2014; 68: 290–3.