The British Geriatrics Society was alarmed to learn that there has been a U turn in Government policy regarding the provision of rehabilitation services for people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, as reported in the HSJ today. The COVID-19 virus has disproportionately affected older people with around half of diagnoses and almost 90% of deaths from the virus being in the over 65 age group. The HSJ reports today that despite announcements of ‘Seacole Centres’ for rehabilitation in May, capital funding for these centres has not been made available.
Professor Tahir Masud, President of the British Geriatrics Society, said:
“We are immensely concerned about provision of rehabilitation for people who have had COVID-19 and those who have experienced deconditioning as a result of shielding. Four groups have been identified as needing rehabilitation – people recovering from COVID, deconditioned shielders, people with long-term conditions who have deteriorated, and people waiting for surgery such as hip and knee replacements. The likelihood is that a large proportion of these people will be older people and yet the needs of this age group do not appear to have been considered. To avoid significantly increased demand on emergency and acute care in the coming months, NHS England must resource the rehabilitation needs of older people.”
“It is essential that older people who have had COVID-19 and those who have been shielding have access to appropriate rehabilitation facilities. While providing local rehabilitation services instead of central Seacole Centres will be preferable to many, local services need funding to ensure they are fit for purpose and able to meet the needs of the population they serve. Older people have already been the group hardest-hit by this virus, whether they contracted it or not. The rehabilitation support needed to help them return to independent functioning and preserve quality of life should now be given priority.”