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Published on 2 August 2011

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Older patients ‘should play central role in healthy ageing’

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Older patients and citizens should play a central role in the design and implementation of solutions for active and healthy ageing, it was concluded during a conference organised by the European Patient’s Forum (EFP), entitled ‘The Rights and Needs of Older Patients’.

Over 100 people, including high-level policy makers, healthcare professionals, patients’ organisations and older patients themselves, gathered at the conference in Warsaw, Poland, on July 12-13 to explore the issue.

“The topic of the conference fits within the Polish Presidency of the EU, as the ministry of health suggested older age problems as one of the leading subjects,” said Andrzej Witold Włodarczyk, the Undersecretary of State for Health in Poland.

Włodarczyk suggested that an Institute of Geriatrics should be created to train specialists, promote a holistic approach and develop solutions for older patients to be implemented in the Polish health system.

The Deputy Director-General of DG SANCO, Martin Seychell, said that the aims and milestones of the European Innovation Partnership for Active and Healthy Ageing were a “vital element to our response to the demographic change”, as people in Europe tend to live longer, but with their final years in ill health.

Pointing out the need for everyone to work in partnership, he stressed that “patients and older people need to play a very important and central role, and be involved from the onset”.

Antonyia Parvanova, a member of the European Parliament, asked whether adding two years of “life without disability” was enough, adding that indicators should be developed to measure not only physical but mental health, as well as general well-being and social inclusion.

Other topics included: shared decision-making as a key solution to improve the quality and sustainability of healthcare, patient empowerment through health literacy and quality information, innovative solutions centred on users’ needs, integrated care solutions as a key wish of patients, and the need for health inequalities to be tackled effectively.

The President of EPF, Anders Olauson, concluded:

“EPF has been involved at all levels of the [Innovation] Partnership and we are keen to ensure that the outcome of this conference will contribute meaningfully to the Strategic Implementation Plan.”



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