Headlines: November 14th, 2006



Investment in low level preventative services for the elderly that mean they can remain independent can have huge cost-benefits according to the national charity Counsel and Care, which seeks to get the best care and support for older people, their families and carers. It is calling for this to be reflected in the Government’s 2007 spending review and says some local authorities have been slow to take opportunities to reshape services.

Counsel and Care says providing what it calls ‘that bit of help’, such as effective use of Telecare, to support them in their own homes while monitoring their wellbeing can make big savings in expensive residential or hospital care. It is arguing that the Government should invest in advice, information and advocacy for older people, extending direct payments and individual budgets and making ‘that bit of help’ available in every community.

The organisation is hosting a national conference on Thursday, at which the Care Services Minister, Ivan Lewis, will be among the speakers. The conference will discuss the future of early intervention services for older people and the economic case for it as well as prevention in practice and early intervention for dementia sufferers.

The charity says that in spite of growing evidence for the benefits of Telecare, many local authorities have been slow to develop plans for using the Preventative Technology Grant. It says Government pilots for LinkAge Plus, Partnership for Older People and individual budgets all demonstrate how services can be radically reshaped to meet the changing expectations of older people, as well as saving money.

Counsel and Care Chief Executive Stephen Burke said: “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. We need to raise the expectations of older people who have in the past accepted the services that they were offered. 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.”

The conference, ‘Cutting Corners or Cutting Costs? Assessing the value of early intervention in older people’s services’, will bring together a range of experts to share their vision for early intervention services with a call for smarter commissioning, better funding, and an improvement in the quality of life of elderly people and those caring for them.