Christmas is coming: Home alone and going without proper food

Blog Post 14 November 2017

Christmas is coming: Home alone and going without proper food

Old, alone and worried where the next meal is coming from – the UK, 2017.

With winter upon us, Age UK reports nearly 1million people have unmet care needs and living alone means diet is compromised.

I find it incredibly hard to believe this is still happening. Evidence from the National Nutrition Screening Survey suggests that an estimated 1.3 million people aged over 65 in the UK are not getting adequate protein or energy in their diet.

On admission to hospital, 33 per cent of people in this age group are identified as being at risk of under-nutrition.

I know food banks are doing a valuable job in trying to meet dietary needs, but access to them from the elderly appears to be limited as many have mobility issues and are of a generation where their own dignity would be compromised by using such a service. Simply, many just don’t want to be seen going there; it’s just too embarrassing.

Overcoming such a perceived stigma presents a problem to which I have no answer. But in my experience all old people can benefit from one-to-one visits.

As Christmas looms large I’m sure the season of goodwill may extend to forging new relationships and ensuring our elderly neighbours are well nourished.

So what has all of this got to do with my West Midlands Care Association? Plenty: Ignoring this issue inevitably creates a follow-on cost where the elderly and frail require hospital admission treatment. Clearly there is a strong link between poor nutrition and poor health.

We then face the hurdles of finding step-down beds and suitable domiciliary packages in a shrinking marketplace that’s compounded by Government fiscal restrains.

The association is regularly updating its bed register, is in contact with care package commissioners, supports care providers in operating efficiently, offers nutrition training and generally is doing all it can to ensure our elderly still have enough care sector resources at hand when they need them.

With the countdown towards Christmas under way, spare a thought for our most treasured of national possession – our elderly people. Their long-term welfare appears to be increasingly dependent on acts of kindness rather than mainline acts of intervention.

Debbie Le Quesne - CEO West Midlands Care Association