A round-up of today's other stories in brief
Vaccine time again
FLU SEASON is here and those at risk have been urged to get the flu vaccination. At-risk groups who need the vaccination include over 65s; those with a long-term illness such as chronic lung disease, heart disease, diabetes or lower immunity; pregnant women; children or teenagers on long-term aspirin therapy; residents of nursing homes; and frontline healthcare workers.The vaccine and consultation are free only for those with a Medical Card or GP Visit Card; the vaccine is free but there’s a consultation fee for others in at-risk groups. HSE’s immunisation website: immunisation.ie
UCD project on health literacy wins award
DR GERARDINE Doyle of UCD School of Business has won the prestigious European Health Award at the European Health Forum in Gastein, Austria. Her project on health literacy won after being shortlisted among six initiatives recognised for improving healthcare in Europe.
“We developed the first instrument to measure health literacy,” said Dr Doyle, “and found that 47 per cent of people on average in Europe have limited levels of understanding.” These are skills people require to access health services and to be able to understand information received from their doctor.
The survey of 8,000 people in eight countries uncovered a marked difference in health literacy between countries, but also within. Those identified as at greater risk included the elderly, those with lower levels of education and those of lower socio-economic status. Ireland did comparatively well, with 38 per cent of people deemed to have limited knowledge.
Only the Netherlands did better. “But 38 per cent is still a startling figure,” said Dr Doyle. “It has implications in terms of accessing healthcare. Those people are usually more sick when they arrive in hospital and often arrive in the AE instead of at their GP.”
They were also less likely to take their medications correctly, she said. Dr Doyle points to Poland, Austria and Bulgaria as countries at the bottom end of the table.
Reacting to the award on the day, Dr Doyle said: “This is the most prestigious health policy conference across Europe, so to receive this recognition is fantastic.”
Nurses emigrate despite nursing home vacancies
SOME 700 jobs remain unfilled in the nursing home sector despite a lack of opportunities which is driving thousands of Irish nurses abroad, it has been claimed.
Graduate nurses prefer to emigrate or work in an acute setting rather than work in nursing homes, according to the All-Ireland Gerontological Nurses Association (AIGNA).
The situation for graduate nurses has been bad since a moratorium on recruitment in the HSE was introduced in early 2008, but it has got worse with a complete recruitment pause and a curtailment of agency staff reducing the number of even part-time opportunities.
Nevertheless, AIGNA president Prof Brendan McCormack said there were skills shortages within the nursing home sector which were getting progressively worse.
He said the shortages were compounded by the fact that nursing homes or specialised long-term care units were rarely used as clinical placements for training undergraduates.
“We are finding that newly qualified nurses, in general, either want to work in acute settings or to travel,” Mr McCormack said.
“There are significant opportunities for career progression in older people’s care, in what is a proven growing market, and these opportunities and increasing demand need to be addressed by our nursing education system.”
The rapid ageing of the population means that demand is going to grow for nursing home places over the coming years.