Headlines: April 9th, 2010

A pilot project to evaluate the effectiveness of delivering social care to older people through telephone support and well-being groups is launched today.

Fifteen groups will be set up as part of Reading Borough Council’s preventative and early intervention service. The project is a collaboration between the council and teleconferencing charity Community Network and will use a state-of-the-art telephone conferencing system.

The aim is to improve participants’ health, well-being and independence and reduce the need for residential care or additional statutory services.

Each group will have eight members, who will link up, by telephone, for an hour’s ‘meeting’ once a week. Users will use an ordinary phone to dial a number that enables them to have a conversation with several people at the same time. The calls are free for all those taking part and they can use the time to discuss any problems they may have or just to chat with others in the group.

Belay Gessesse, project officer for Community Network, said: “Telephone support and well-being groups are particularly beneficial for those who are less mobile or housebound due to illness, disability, very old age or because they live in a remote location.

“Projects of this type have proved very successful in tackling the feelings of isolation and social exclusion experienced by many older people, which can lead to depression and other health problems.”

The approach is intended to be in line with the Department of Health’s Partnership for Older People Projects (POPP) initiative, which encourages councils and the voluntary sector to work together to change social care for older people, channelling resources towards home-based intervention rather than institutional care.