Investing In Early Intervention For Older People

Investing in “low level” preventative services providing ‘that bit of help’ for older people to remain independent can have huge cost-benefits, according to Counsel and Care, the national charity getting the best care and support for older people, their families and carers. Effective use of telecare, for example, can make big savings in expensive residential or hospital care by supporting older people in their own homes, monitoring their wellbeing and reducing falls.

Counsel and Care is calling for the Government’s 2007 spending review to invest in:

  • Advice, information and advocacy for older people;
  • Extending direct payments and individual budgets;
  • Making ‘that bit of help’ available in every community; and
  • Telecare to reduce the need for residential or hospital care.

A major national conference hosted by Counsel and Care on 16 November 2006 will feature Care Services Minister Ivan Lewis, who will discuss the future of early intervention services for older people. Issues the conference will address include:

  • The economic case for early intervention;
  • Prevention in practice; and
  • Early intervention for dementia sufferers.

Despite growing evidence about the benefits of telecare, many local authorities have been slow to develop plans for using the Preventative Technology Grant. Government pilots for LinkAge Plus, Partnership for Older People (POPP) and individual budgets provide an opportunity to demonstrate how services can be radically re-shaped to better meet the needs and changing expectations of older people and save money at the same time.

Stephen Burke, Chief Executive of Counsel and Care said: “We know that older people want to stay in their own homes and maintain their independence. However, we also know that there are frailer older people for whom the care home environment is the only setting where they can receive the support that they actually need. Low level services are not just about health and social care – they are about the way that older people can remain active and participate in their local area. They can do this more easily if they have choice, voice and control over their care and community services. Low level services can be delivered in any setting – something as simple as befriending or information and advice can be provided to a person living in the community or in a care home.

“We need to raise the expectations of older people who have in the past accepted the services that they were offered. This will be the case as the baby boomers age – we need to encourage older people over 80s to expect and to ask for more from health and social care, and support them to exercise choice and control. This conference brings together a range of experts who will share their vision for early intervention services, with a call for smarter commissioning, better funding, and an improvement in the quality of life for older people, their families and carers”.