Background and Purpose

The majority of UK healthcare delivery involves older people with multiple long-term conditions (MLTCs); these topics are therefore of critical relevance to all health and social care professionals. There is increasing recognition of ageing and MLTC as “core business” for the NHS, requiring a fundamental shift in research, training and practice.

At present, the importance of the health of older people and MLTCs is not adequately reflected in education across undergraduate (UG) and postgraduate (PG) taught programmes and professional training and development. This means that healthcare professionals (HCPs) are not always sufficiently skilled to care for patients with complex needs or MLTCs.

Outcomes (achieved or projected)

We aim to improve the training of HCPs about ageing and MLTCs by:

  • Ensuring that ageing and MLTCs are adequately represented in the curricula used to train HCPs
  • Identifying and sharing case-studies of best practice in education and training locally, regionally and nationally
  • Developing an evidence base to guide interventions to improve education and training
  • Collaborating across healthcare professions to develop multidisciplinary training

Who will benefit and how

Improving the provision of effective education and training about ageing and MLTCs will bring benefits to:

  • Healthcare students by better preparation to care for older people and those with MLTCs. They will also benefit from exposure to other professions through multidisciplinary education
  • Teachers and trainers through the sharing of case-studies of best practice in education and training, and the development of an evidence base to inform effective strategies
  • Patients through the development of a workforce equipped to provide highly skilled care for older people and those with MLTCs

How the NHIP contributed to the outcomes

The NHIP education and training sub-committee identified ageing and MLTCs as a focus for improvement. We have set up a working group to bring together educators from professions including medicine, dentistry, psychology and pharmacy to share examples of good practice and drive forward changes to individual curricula. We are working with NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) to ensure that education and training for students is informed by cutting-edge research about ageing and MLTCs. To build a robust evidence base to inform education and training, we are working with the NIHR Incubator for Clinical Education Research who are leading a project to identify what is required in the early education and training of doctors to enable them to effectively deal with MLTCs on graduation.

Reflections and learnings

We have identified a diverse range of existing innovative teaching interventions about ageing and MLTCs and plan to disseminate this knowledge in the form of case-studies. This may help other institutions to review and improve their own curriculum with regard to ageing and MLTCs. Initial research findings have identified key areas of educational need as being management of complexity and dealing with uncertainty, involvement of MLTC patients in their own care, and effective working with the multi-disciplinary team. Improving education and training for the workforce will require some flexibility for institutions to adopt practices that best suit their students and the patients that those students will serve.

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