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We mustn’t overmedicalise the elderly, says TV Doc

11 September 2015

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Dr Louise Jordan, the doctor from The Real Peak Practice – a BBC One documentary following a practice in Derbyshire for a year – warned that GPs mustn’t over-medicalise elderly patients with complex needs.

The programme, which aired nationally last night, showed Dr Jordan helping one of the oldest patient populations in the country as almost one in three of the patients at Baslow Health Centre is over 65. 

Due to the increasing older population “there will be an increasingly complex caseload, and we mustn’t over-medicalise it,” she urged, in an interview with Management in Practice.

Instead she suggested a more holistic approach: “What works well in our practice is that we have a weekly multi-disciplinary team meeting on a Friday morning, and it’s really integrated with the doctors, technicians, community nurses, social services, mental health.” 

Jordan also recommended that practices utilise the voluntary sector, befriending services, Age UK or a local charity, and “try to really, really treat each person individually and give them a bespoke service.”

“All of us don’t have a finite amount of sympathy but we can’t run on dry, the more tired we get the more difficult it is to give compassion. We’re running around chasing numbers and chasing bureaucracyand tick boxes, no one actually rewards you for giving good quality care… No one measures the time you spend comforting somebody, and my aim is to cure if I can, to alleviate if I can, but to comfort always,” she said.

Talking about the two men who were filmed dying, John Ellis and Larry Pearson, the TV doctor said: “They both really wanted to do it and John Ellis, who had the neurological disease, was really, really keen that something good come out of his awful illness.

“Larry Pearson had also gone through it with his wife the year before and having had a son of his own trained in medicine I think he was very keen to make something good come out of his misfortune and try and help other people understand,” she added.

In terms of practice managers specifically, Doctor Jordan commented: “A brilliant practice manager is one that really looks at how happy the staff are, how happy the reception team is, and make sure everyone is valued, because we all do more when we’re valued or appreciated.”

In order to boost morale, she said that her team sat down a year ago and “really worked out with every single member of the team what our core values are. Stop worrying about things that the government tells us they’re going to do, what are our core values? And it was amazing how empowering it was.

“I’m very worried with the crisis that’s coming up… just somewhere along the line we’ve got to keep that vision and passion and vocation going,” she added.