New care champion appointed for older people in Scotland

A new specialist Rehabilitation Consultant has been appointed to act as a Scotland-wide champion to help older people live better quality lives.
Edith Macintosh, a highly-experienced occupational therapist, will spend the next two years  working with care homes and day care services to help drive up standards of care and support. 

In particular the appointment, which has been funded by the Scottish Government, is expected to play a major role in helping to improve the lives of people with dementia.

Mrs Macintosh was chosen for the role after an extensive 26-year career as an occupational therapist in both NHS and Local Authority sectors as well as her work within Allied Health Professionals and as chair of the Scottish OT Managers Forum.

She said: “The main purpose of this post is to promote and increase access to rehabilitation and enablement to ensure older people in care homes and day services realise their full potential and enjoy a fulfilling life.

“In simple terms, this could be something as basic as older people being encouraged to exercise more or older people having a wider access to a bigger range of activities within the care services or in the community around them.

“Care providers will also be supported to identify things that could reduce the risk of falls and fractures in older people. This could involve looking at factors such as the environment, footwear, diet, medication reviews amongst other things.”

Edith added: “Much of my own clinical experience in relation to rehabilitation has been with older people in hospital or in the community.

“That’s why I believe it’s so important we support and empower those involved in providing care for older people in care homes and day services to promote and facilitate rehabilitation and meaningful activity. 

“Meaningful activity relates to a person’s quality of life – to be engaged in something that is purposeful and of personal importance to you. It is important to all of us to feel our personal interests can be supported; this enriches our lives, brings health and well being and supports independent living. One size does not fit all and personalisation of care is critical in adding life to years.”

The creation of the rehabilitation consultant post follows the success of the appointment of a Nurse Consultant for Older People in 2006 (now held by Susan Polding-Clyde) – the first position to be established to provide care homes with specialist advice and support to improve levels of care. There has since been an appointment of Gillian Stevenson as Nurse Consultant for Infection Control, who is tasked with influencing improvements to the quality of care to minimise risk of infection.

The appointment follows the publication of the Scottish Government’s Delivery Framework for Adult Rehabilitation in Scotland Document in 2007, which examined the evidence for co-ordinated and focused approaches to rehabilitation gaps.

The post will provide visible leadership and direction to service providers, commissioners and policy makers within adult care as well as providing links with many key agencies within and beyond the care sector.  The post is pivotal to the implementation of the National Framework for Adult Rehabilitation in terms of care homes and day services for older people.
Mrs Macintosh, who was born on the Isle of Lewis but now lives in Perth, added: “I will be looking to provide support and advice for providers of care, to liaise with key stakeholders and organisations – and to drive change.  
“This will include looking at the availability of appropriate training for staff, equipment and activity resources and advising on specialist areas such as the needs of people living with dementia.”

Marcia Ramsay, Director of Adult Services for the Care Commission, warmly welcomed Mrs Macintosh’s appointment.

She said: “We are delighted the Scottish Government has shown its foresight in recognising the value of the Rehabilitation Consultant role. We hope this appointment will be a force for positive change – improving the care for older people by providing much-needed support and leadership for those working in this challenging sector.
“As the regulator we are aware that there are issues about the quality of practice in parts of the care home sector, but there is also a range of exciting and innovative work taking place. An important part of the Rehabilitation Consultant’s role will be to work with a range of stakeholders to improve communication and sharing of best practice among care workers thus reaffirming the very real rewards of a career in care.

“This role will also complement the success of the Care Commission’s Nurse Consultant for Care Homes for Older People, allowing us to build on the very real improvements and developments which have already been achieved from this innovative position.

“Care Homes and day services for older people play a crucial role in Scottish society and we are confident that Edith will provide excellent leadership to stakeholders in continuing to raise standards, boost morale and continue the journey towards achieving a world-class care sector of which we can be proud.”