Introducing Dr Rod Kersh, our health advisor in Wellbeing Teams

I met Rod two years ago at the Microsystems Festival in Jonkoping. I was immersed in my NHS Change Day Challenge of introducing one-page profiles in health and care, and talked to Rod about this. One year later, we were both back at the Microsystem Festival presenting on how Rod had introduced one-page profiles on Mallard Ward at Doncaster Royal Infirmary. We did the presentation this as a webinar too.

Rod was also one of my early thinking partners about self-management and teal, in the very early days of Wellbeing Teams. On his one-page profile you learn about his dog Maisie, and how Rod walks her every day. His  tortoise called Yoda. I have a tropical aquarium which I watch when not watching TV or the family watching TV. How he loves reading, especially fiction. Rod says he has more books than there is room for in my house. I stayed with him and his family this month, and I think it is true!

Rod was the Yorkshire and Humber Innovator of the Year in 2015, Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals innovator of the year 2017, and he and his team won Dementia Friendly Hospital of the Year back in 2013.

I am delighted that Rod has agreed to be one of our Advisors in Wellbeing Teams. Our purpose is to do whatever it takes to support people to live well at home and feel part of the community. This means paying good attention to people’s health and in particular the reasons why people may end up in hospital. Rod is going to help us make sure we can do that. We are starting with a series of blogs together sharing Rod’s practical advice for keeping people well at home. I asked Rod to start by introducing himself here.

“I have been working as a doctor specialising in the care of older people for ten years – since my appointment in Doncaster. For reasons that might become apparent in this blog, I am changing organisations in January and will start working in Rotherham on the 9th of January.

People become doctors for many different reasons; some because they want to help, others from past experiences, often of helplessness, and, others because of the fascinating insight into health and disease.

I am one of the traditionalists – I studied medicine because I like to help.

In the past twenty years since I have qualified, the most important aspects of treatment and care that I have learned relate to patient safety and person-centred care. With these two principles in mind, I believe anything can be achieved – safe, effective, compassionate, efficient and effective care that is beyond the constraints of budgets or resources, it is tapping-into what makes us human.

As a general physician, I am qualified to investigate, diagnose and treat conditions across a very wide spectrum of disease – anything from pneumonia and cancer to depression and arthritis.

Within this, I specialise in the care of older people, and particularly those older people who fall, become confused, disorientated or dispossessed because of disease, over medication, dementia and delirium.

Much of my work relates to prevention of harm, to undoing the over-diagnoses and over treatments that doctors and nurses sometimes wrongly relate to individuals.
For example, the treatment or investigation that is appropriate for someone in their 50’s can be wrong or harmful to someone in their 80’s. Taking the person’s perspective, involving them in discussions and decisions about their care has for many years not been a prerogative of medicine – do as the doctor says, type-practice.

We now know that clinical effectiveness is far more dependent on partnership and team working.

In our blogs together we will be looking at a range of health issues and how we can support people to live well at home, but let’s start with what the research and your experience says are the main reasons why older people are sometimes unnecessarily or inappropriately admitted to hospital.

Rod explains.

“The Baby-Boom generation – those born in the years after World War Two are now becoming older. A person born in 1945 is today 72, thirty years ago that person might have been considered old, today we have reimagined ageing and people who were once considered old-age pensioners are often still healthy, happy contributors to our communities and societies.

Now and into the next twenty years, this group of people will begin to age – the process of physiological ageing although considered independent of actual age, becomes inevitable as people enter their 80’s and 90’s – although this might be different in 50 years’ time.

The needs of someone born in 1923 are different to those of people born in the 1970s or 80s, yet, our health and social care system is often designed to support people with relatively straightforward needs – where perhaps a person has one disease that can be treated straightforwardly with a tablet or medicine. We are now living in the age of multi-morbidity – when one person has not two or three but multiple health conditions all of which interact and influence one another, and with these diagnoses come the treatments and investigations which taken to an extreme can overwhelm.”

In this series of blogs, we will start with Urinary Tract Infections, one of the main reasons older people can end up in hospital.

 

 

 

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