23 Jun 2021
The BDA has joined other Allied Health Professional Bodies and charities including the Alzheimer's Society, Stroke Association and Age UK to create a new report "Moving Forward Stronger", calling on government to take urgent action to help those with long term conditions. Many people living with conditions such as Alzheimer's, cancer, frailty, stroke will have struggled to access support and rehabilitation during the pandemic and suffered deterioration as a result.
The report therefore calls on local and national government to take urgent action to:
- Fully fund a national two-year rehabilitation strategy that ensures people with significantly deteriorated long-term conditions get the therapeutic support they need
- Appoint a national clinical lead to implement this rehabilitation strategy
- Ensure local partners – such as local authorities and Integrated Care Systems (ICS) – develop and deliver their own localised rehabilitation strategy, and that each ICS has a regional rehabilitation lead.
The BDA Older People Specialist Group contributed a section to the report to highlight that nutrition and hydration are essential to any rehabilitation programme and vital for maintaining independence, wellbeing, quality of life and delaying functional decline. They can support rebuilding of muscle, maintenance of immune response and enable someone to participate in rehabilitation and independently manage activities. We called for three further specific actions to address the challenges of pandemic related decline:
- Ensure that the expertise of dietitians is recognised and included in any guidance or policy-making for rehabilitation services
- Increase focus on the importance of good nutrition and hydration for people living with long-term conditions, via a funded national campaign
- Provide ring-fenced additional funding for local authorities to ensure that people living with longterm conditions have equitable access to affordable food as a core strategy to prevent malnutrition.