More details have emerged about the extent of the cross-sector working involved in the Care Direct project.Care Direct will provide a one-stop shop gateway to information about social care, health, housing and social security benefits and will be piloted in the South West next year.
The new service was announced last summer in the Treasury Spending Review White Paper and the NHS Plan. It will provide a mixed way of handling public access to four cross-cutting services – a single telephone number, local helpdesks, and a befriender scheme to provide volunteers to support people in the handling of their query.
The telephone helpline will be staffed and managed by NHS Direct call centre staff. The local helpdesks will provide practical assistance to help people access services and social security benefits. This might include making appointments for clients or helping them to complete forms.
The Care Direct helpdesks will be supplemented by on-line facilities, linked to other websites – especially local authority websites – that will, in time, allow clients to access the same information that is held at the call centres.
Care Direct will be piloted in the second half of 2001/02 in the following six local authorities in the South-West Region – Bournemouth, Bristol. Devon, Gloucestershire, Plymouth and Somerset.
It is expected that Care Direct will become available in a further 30 local authorities in 2003/2004.