Experts Propose Ways to Stem Rising Number of Parkinson’s Deaths in England

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by Mary Chapman |

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Experts are proposing ways to stanch the number of deaths from Parkinson’s disease and related disorders in England, including establishing dedicated nursing homes and giving Parkinson’s patients personal case managers, according to a recent report by Public Health England.

According to the study, more than 6.5 million England residents age 20 and older died between 2001 and 2014. Of those deaths, more than 90,000 were associated with a neurological condition. Some 31 percent of those were attributed to Parkinson’s disease.

Titled “Deaths Associated with Neurological Conditions in England 2001-2014,” the report was issued by the National Neurology Intelligence Network. The study looks at death rates related to neurological conditions, demographic characteristics, underlying causes, and place of death.

Now, an international team of experts led by Bastiaan R. Bloem, MD, PhD, who teaches at Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, The Netherlands, evaluated these findings in the study “Parkinson Matters,” published in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease.

 “These statistics are important and should be used to inform and guide those who make long-term decisions about the practicalities of how Parkinson’s patients are managed by the various healthcare systems involved, working together to improve quality of care and quality of life,” Bloem said in a press release.

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Bloem said the data correspond with a remarkable increase in the incidence of new patients with Parkinson’s disease, and should be used by those who decide how Parkinson’s patients are cared for by the various healthcare systems involved, with the aim of enhancing both the quality of care and life.

The study also shows that eight of 10 Parkinson’s patients die in hospitals or care homes — not a happy finding, according to the study’s first author Sirwan Darweesh, MD, Radboud University, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “Being able to die at home is a core wish of most patients with Parkinson’s disease,” Darweesh said.

“Our current healthcare system is sometimes unable to meet this essential wish of patients and their families, particularly when medical issues requiring hospitalization occur.”

The authors suggest multiple ways to better manage Parkinson’s patients and increase standards of care in care homes and hospitals. In addition to the creation of nursing homes exclusively for those with the disease, and assigning case managers to Parkinson’s patients, they call for a network of specifically trained healthcare professionals with expertise in Parkinson’s management.

 They also suggest tailoring collaborative plans of care with patients and their families.

“Parkinson’s disease is a matter of serious concern for our future generations,” Bloem said. “Future efforts should be focused on providing resources for vulnerable elderly Parkinson patients, avoiding unplanned hospital admissions and out-of-home deaths as much as possible.”