Ageing and life-course

Integrated care for older people

With more people living longer there will be larger numbers of people experiencing declines in physical and mental capacity who may also need care for day-to-day activities. These needs are not well met within existing models of health care. There is a pressing need to develop comprehensive community-based approaches to prevent declines in capacity and to provide support to family caregivers.

WHO, with support from 30 experts in geriatric medicine, has initiated the development of evidence-based guidelines on Integrated care for older people (ICOPE) with a particular focus on less resourced settings. Targeted at non-specialist health workers, they will guide  home-based interventions for older people that can prevent, reverse or slow declines in intrinsic capacity.

The Guidelines will cover issues such as malnutrition, mobility loss, urinary incontinence, falls, hearing and visual impairments, depression, cognitive, behavioural and psychological problems. Most of the recommended interventions have an effect on more than one ‘problem’ at the same time. Guidance will be given on how to ensure an integrated approach focusing on ‘problems’ that matter most for older people, rather than on specific conditions (e.g. diabetes, dementia, heart disease etc). Recommendations on carrying out a comprehensive Healthy Ageing assessment and developing a care plan will also be provided. A key cross-cutting theme will be the provision of support and training for the older people and carers to better cope with and manage these problems at home.