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Everyone knows someone living with a long-term condition. At some point in our lives, we’ve likely all faced a difficult situation where someone we love is struggling to cope.

As people live longer, we have to face more conditions that impact on our quality of life. In the UK today, approximately 85% of older adults have at least one long-term condition, with many more suffering from multiple conditions, both mental and physical, affecting their day-to-day lives and independence.

For the individual or the caregiver, it can be hard to know where to turn. How could we build up resilience and prevent problems? Do we resort to extra support in the home or the local community? Do we look at care homes? If so, where, when and how? When do we go to A&E?

Barely a day goes by where we don’t read a news story about the NHS under pressure, struggling to cope with increased demands for services.

When is it ever right that somebody should have to wait 12 hours or more on a corridor trolley before being seen to by a doctor?

At home, so often, older people in particular are dependent on their families for care and support. But do we really have the resources, or the time, when we’re all trying to juggle a little bit of everything? Have we really got the right infrastructure to support people? What more can be done to bridge the gap between hospitals, care homes and the home? How can we effectively apply IT to monitor and care for vulnerable populations in their home environment?

As researchers, we have a duty to tackle these issues head on and give a voice to some of these groups. We’re looking at ways we can apply a patient-centred approach to help people more effectively manage and cope with the complex issues associated with long term conditions.

The simple fact is, things can’t go on as they are. In a time of unprecedented demographic change, where more cuts are being made to vital public health budgets, we need to challenge the status quo and find evidence-based solutions that make a real difference to each person affected, their families, and society as a whole.

What do you think? Share your views using #ChangingChallengingWorld

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