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Update from BSG Scotland
The tenth BSG Scotland members’ event was held on 20 June 2011 at Glasgow Caledonian University. This informal half day event was for BSG members and guests. The nine participants were from Glasgow Caledonian University; University of the West of Scotland; and University of Stirling. It was disappointing that numbers were again low, in spite of the very interesting programme and free buffet lunch.

The event was chaired by Dr Jo Booth, Glasgow Caledonian University. Jo began by
asking for feedback on BSG Scotland events. These were considered to be very interesting and useful, particularly for networking and finding out about gerontology research in Scotland. They also provided a great opportunity for PhD students to present their work in a friendly, informal setting. Participants thought that it would be a shame if the events did not continue, but recognised the challenge of attracting participants in the context of ever increasing workloads and demands on members’ time. It was decided to continue to plan events for next year, with an emphasis on issues relevant to members’ work.

Jo then spoke about research at Glasgow Caledonian University. The Institute for Applied Health Research has five research groups. Jo is a member of the group on later life, led by Professor Debbie Tolson. This multi-disciplinary group has three themes: healthy ageing; later life syndromes; and improving practice in quality of care and health care for older people. The project on reminiscence using football has received much publicity and a new study is about to start. The Institute is happy to collaborate with other institutions.

Maria Desougi spoke first on Ageing in canine companion animal ownership. Maria is a sociologist and animal human interactionist – a new field. Maria explained why she had chosen to research dogs. Walking the dog is an everyday activity, but the relationship has breadth and depth. The relationship between humans and wolves or dogs dates back to 12,000 BC. Animal human interactionists use the theory of interpretivism. Ethnography and symbolic interactionism are also relevant: there is a new wave of ethnographic research. There is ambiguity in canine ageing as it varies by breed; often a dog’s age is not known; there is a lack of ritual markers in the case of dogs. Maria studied four dogs, using qualitative in-depth interviews with owners, and observation and participation. Her aims were: to discover when a canine companion animal comes to be regarded as ageing; how human/canine interactions were affected by ageing; and to understand the implications of the identification of the dog as older. Six themes had emerged. There were two ways of ageing, gradual or rapid onset. The companion animal could be seen as the eternal child, with no prospect of becoming an independent adult and no transitions. There was increasing integration of animal and human as the dog aged. Regulation decreased as lapses came to be considered acceptable. There was a fusing of age and infirmity; and there was awareness on a daily basis of the shadow of death. The ageing of the dog was regarded with surprising levels of negativity in the interviews, but observational data support a more positive view.

Dr Maggie Lawrence, Glasgow Caledonian University, was to give the second presentation on Addressing stroke recurrence: results of a systematic review. Unfortunately Maggie was taken ill on the day and unable to attend. We look forward to hearing her presentation at a future event. In Maggie’s place, Jo Booth spoke about her research on Nocturia and its consequences for older people.

Jo explained that nocturia is a number of urinary voids recorded during the night’s sleep, each void preceded and followed by sleep. It is caused by nocturnal polyuria, reduced bladder capacity or polyuria. Jo had found that people were bothered by having to get up in the night to go to the toilet, but there was no research evidence from the perspective of older people and the community nurses working with them. Jo carried out a three stage mixed method study: 1. a postal survey of two GP practice areas, one affluent and one deprived, including all adults aged 60 and over. 2. Interviews with older people and community nurses to explore understanding of nocturia, impact, coping, help seeking, and self management techniques. 3. An algorithm was developed for testing and managing nocturia. The prevalence of bothersome nocturia (two or more times a night) was 45%. It affected people’s ability to concentrate; they had low energy, were less productive, participated less, were careful about drinking, and had insufficient sleep. 63% were worried that the condition would get worse. The bothersomeness and effect on quality of life were greater in the deprived area. There were no differences between men and women. The interviews found that people experienced nocturia as distressing, debilitating, frustrating and puzzling. Considerations for practice were that lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) are more common than urinary incontinence (UI) and do not always result in UI. LUTS may be treatable. Jo concluded nocturia is prevalent and bothersome, impacts on quality of life and participation, and that there is an opportunity for early intervention.

After tea Anna Berankova, PhD student at Charles University in Prague and a visiting student at University of Stirling, presented her research on Dementia in people with Down Syndrome. In the Czech Republic knowledge about dementia in people with learning disabilities is practically non-existent. The system of social care is in transition, from large institutions to small scale institutions and support in the community. Anna’s research is exploratory, including a case study in the Czech Republic and case studies in Scotland. She presented some preliminary findings on the Czech Republic. There is a strong health care system with good access to specialised medical professions and professional dementia care training. Professionals in care for people with learning disabilities have a high standard of education. In social services it is a time of change with opportunities for innovation but unclear responsibilities. Staff to resident ratios are inadequate. The services in the community aim to support people in developing new skills, but are faced with the reality of dementia. The social care and health care systems are inadequately connected. Some health care professionals are unwilling to treat people with dementia and social care workers are unwilling to look at health. It is difficult to find nursing home places for people with learning disabilities and dementia. Anna will continue with descriptive research on case studies, then proceed with action research, working in small group homes with a voluntary organisation in Czech Republic. She suggests as future objectives for the Czech Republic: translations of existing materials; further research; the development of diagnostic pathway, intervention recommendations, training programmes and clear guidelines for staff.

Participants had many questions for the speakers and discussion followed each of the talks. All agreed that the topics were very interesting and stimulating and that the networking opportunity provided by the meeting was valuable to them. The organising group will begin to plan further events which will be announced on the BSG website and to mailing lists.

For further information about BSG Scotland, please visit the webpage: www.britishgerontology.org/bsg-scotland
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