Earlier this week I attended The King's Fund's conference “Innovations in the delivery of care for older people”. It was well attended by local service leaders and had a number of excellent speakers sharing practical experience of support for older people that really works. In a time of tight budgets and a growing older population it is critical that we look for new ways of providing the right kind of support, at the right time, in the right place, that is sustainable into the future.
When one hears about innovative approaches one often automatically thinks about new technologies. But for this event that was certainly not the case. Many of the examples being described and shared by those at the sharp end were of a different kind of innovation.
There are already many impressive examples of pilots and schemes that appear to be providing good quality support that is of a benefit to the older person, their friends and family, as well as those that provide the support in terms of resource being able to be better used elsewhere. We often have a gut feel for what is working, but all too often it is not recognised and scaled up unless there is an independent, all singing all dancing evaluation. Whilst this is important it can mean that the impetus and focus is lost.
That is why events like this are important in drawing people together to disseminate best practice in a safe and constructive environment.
I learned of support in one major city that allows an older person to return home the same day in 80-85% of cases with a care plan, proper diagnosis and medication rather than be admitted to hospital for what could be several days or weeks. The innovation here is all about different teams working together and providing good discharge planning and post discharge support.
In another example, of those older people who came through the Home care Assessment and Reablement Team, just 22% of over 4000 referrals required ongoing commissioned services.
The Royal Voluntary Service own Home from Hospital scheme highlighted that with the support of volunteers being involved with the discharge of older people from hospital, the emergency readmission rates within a month could be reduced by around 50%. This is based on practical non medical support akin to a good neighbour. Read our report Avoiding Unhappy Returnsm, radical reductions in readmissions,achieved with volunteers.
All of these examples demonstrate that innovation is not all about IT, although this does have an increasingly important role to play, but often it’s more about the attitudes, open mindedness and the willingness of those who work within the services to try something different.
Posted by Steve Smith, Royal Voluntary Service Public Affairs Manager (England) at 00:00
Friday, 20 June 2014.
The face of the traditional volunteer is changing. As many people work well into their retirement years people are crafting a life made up of work, socialising and volunteering, finding a balance between these responsibilities. The truth is that volunteering is not just for people who have retired but people from all walks of life. Many of our volunteers are older and have retired but many are in full time work, have children or juggle various volunteering commitments, giving an hour or two of their time at weekends or in the evenings. If we are going to keep up with the changing demographic volunteering needs to evolve with those changes, making it easy and practical for people with a desire to help to step up and do so.
This post is in response to a story in The Daily Telegraph, 3 June 2014