What we're saying

Royal Voluntary Service blog
Find out about the people behind Royal Voluntary Service in our series of guest stories from our volunteers, staff and partners.

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Increase in Excess Winter Deaths among over 75s is unacceptable

The Office for National Statistics has today released its Excess Winter Deaths stats for 2012/13, which show an astonishing 31% increase in deaths among the over 75s.

One older person dying unnecessarily is a tragedy but 25,600 older people dying every year is unacceptable. Many older people face a winter of chronic loneliness, cold homes and severe isolation. More needs to be done to ensure that older people living alone get the help and support they need in winter to make sure they remain safe, warm and well and the solution is not complex. Government and local authorities are in a strong place to work with, signpost, acknowledge the work of the trained volunteers who exist in every community but their contribution must be better understood and utilised. Quite often, something as simple as a visit from a neighbour can mean the difference between life and death for an older person in winter.

Through our army of 40,000 volunteers who donate their time to help older people stay independent and happy in their own homes, we are making a real difference to older people’s lives. It is vital that we pull together as a society to share our time and help stop the scandal of older people dying unnecessarily.

Posted by at 00:00 Tuesday, 26 November 2013.

Our response to dedicated GPs for frailest patients announcement

It was announced today that patients in England over the age of 75 will be allocated a named GP who will know their medical history. This is good news for the millions of older people who find the current system both confusing and distressing. Having a named GP will ensure that care is joined up and that older people have a familiar face who knows their personal medical history inside out. This will go a long way towards easing the increasing pressure on A&E, which unfortunately is where a lot of older people end up because they feel they have no other option. Royal Voluntary Service is urging the Government to take this a step further by recognising the crucial role volunteers can play in further reducing the mounting pressure on GPs. Preventative care such as that delivered by Royal Voluntary Service’s Good Neighbours volunteers, who provides frequent contact with vulnerable, lonely and isolated older people, can remove the need for unnecessary trips to the GP’s surgery or A&E.

Posted by David McCullough, chief executive of Royal Voluntary Service at 00:00 Friday, 15 November 2013.

Voluntary sector can help ease A&E crisis

Sir Bruce Keogh has today published the first stage of his review into urgent and emergency care in England, setting out proposals for the future of urgent and emergency care services in England.

The report highlights key factors that are contributing to an A&E service that is critically over stretched and we hope this will be a catalyst for change. It’s shocking that 40 per cent of patients attending A&E are discharged requiring no treatment at all. With emergency care at breaking point, there’s a great chance for the government to speed up the prevention agenda and turn to the voluntary sector to support older people with low level care needs. Often something as simple as a weekly visit from a volunteer, a lift to a doctor’s appointment or help with basic tasks such as shopping for food can reduce the number of older people ending up in A&E unnecessarily.

Posted by David McCullough, chief executive of Royal Voluntary Service at 00:00 Wednesday, 13 November 2013.

NACC National Community Meals Week - raising awareness of a vital service

11-15 November is NACC National Community Meals Week, an annual event to raise the profile and highlight the importance of a vital service that improves the lives of so many people.

Community meals services, such as our own Meals on Wheels not only provides essential nutritious meals but also vital human contact to older people across the country. Last year alone Royal Voluntary Service delivered more than 2 million meals to older people. Many older people go days, weeks, even months without seeing or speaking to another person, leaving them chronically isolated and lonely.

Royal Voluntary Service Meals on Wheels drivers and volunteers are an essential point of contact for older people, not only through delivering much-needed meals but also by conducting Safe and Well checks to ensure that the people they visit have all of the help they need. Without these vital services older people are at risk of malnourishment, dehydration and acute loneliness.

Posted by John Pearson, Royal Voluntary Service executive director of operations at 00:00 Tuesday, 12 November 2013.