Headlines: March 4th, 2005

Local authorities are to get 60 million pounds to help older people to live independently for longer and to avoid emergency hospital visits. The Partnerships for Older People Projects grant will encourage councils to work with other bodies to draw up schemes to support older people in active and healthy living.The POPP project will support local authorities in working with the National Health Service and voluntary and community sector partners to devise innovative approaches to keeping older people in their own homes.

Health Minister Stephen Ladyman said almost half of hospital admissions were of older people and many of them could be avoided. Working proactively to give care in a community setting, he said, enabled older people to maintain their independence and quality of life and reduced the need for hospital or high intensity care.

POPP’s aim is the creation of projects that reduce reliance on hospitals and other institutions through new approaches emphasising healthy and independent living, including supporting older people in their own homes, active rehabilitation and health promotion such as falls prevention education. Successful schemes will also take account of ideas to be included in the Green Paper on Adult Social Care, which is due to be published shortly.

Professor Ian Philp, the National Director for Older People’s Health said local authority social services departments had already demonstrated their effectiveness in improving community services for older people and reducing pressure on acute hospital beds. So far the emphasis had been on reducing delayed discharge from hospital. The POPP project was shifting this emphasis to reducing the need for admission to hospitals in the first place.

The new project was launched at Letchworth Primary Care Trust in Hertfordshire which operates a Handypersons scheme, allowing vulnerable people living at home to call on someone to help with every day problems such as mending taps, fitting smoke alarms and changing bulbs. The scheme was established in March last year as part of a local project to reduce hospital admissions of older people.