Care for older people in Scotland – challenge or opportunity?
I was at the National Care Home Conference in Glasgow last Friday, relating to provision for our increasing population of older people. It was a very busy conference with nearly 500 delegates, which meant the hall was packed out. The venue (Glasgow Hilton) had excellent facilities and managed to produce good food. In addition to Vegetarian for Life’s information stand there were nearly 80 other stands, many much grander than ours, but then commercial firms have large budgets for such events. I was amazed at the number of sweets given away at an event supposedly focused on health! By lunchtime most of the delegates had found their way to us. Many took application forms to join our UK listing scheme for vegetarian/vegan friendly care homes, and we hope to welcome some or all of them as new members. Because delegates could not circulate while presentations were being given, I had the opportunity to listen to the presentations. They focused on the growing older population: how to deal with their needs and the needs of a care sector that is under pressure and unable to recruit sufficient workers, even now. The Minister for Public Health in Scotland gave an introductory presentation, followed by a presentation from the Chair of the taskforce mandated with looking for solutions – no easy task but one that seems to be taken very seriously. The Director of Inspection from the Care Inspectorate spoke next and the final morning session was a lively debate with politicians from the major parties in the Scottish Parliament. I felt the calibre of speakers was very good compared to many events that I attend and the issues are being considered deeply. In Scotland, health and social care are already partly along the path to integration with the possibility of budget sharing and funds diverted to prevention, thus reducing hospital admissions. I am hopeful that this may bring positive results and also that large scale organisations are more willing to listen to our message about proper nutrition and catering for vegetarians and vegans. A good day and well worth attending.
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