Kirsty and Phill’s evangelism about location is nothing compared to health planners new-found fixation with prevention.
Fenland Health & Wellbeing Partnership 16 Jan 14
South Cambs Local Health Partnership 21 Jan 14
Attend any health meeting at the minute and the importance of reducing attendance at primary care and acute services (Doctors and Hospitals) is the consuming topic of conversation.It is not rocket science to work out that prevention is cheaper than cure. Stopping someone from falling is better for then and people’s budgets than dealing with a broken leg. Likewise keeping someone active both physically and mentally will help reduce their health problems and save the NHS money.
You may note that both these examples effect older people in a disproportionate way, and sometimes sitting in health meetings it seems only older people use their services. This may be because of the work happening in the county around older people’s procurement, it may be because of the aging population, or it may be because they use the health service more.
The Voluntary Sector has being doing prevention for years, often without realising it and certainly without measuring the savings made to the health and care providers. The lunch club that provides hot meals and activities for older people in a local village. The local history group that keeps people active and engaged in their community (although you do not have to be over 65 to be a member!), or on a larger scale the work of the U3A or organisations like Suffolk Circle. All these organisations and many many more like them provide help for people to stay healthy, to remain in their home and support them when they are in need. A great deal of it is not innovative or new, but it is tried and tested, and it does meet the need of local communities which is important in the more rural areas where public transport is non existent.
So when commissioners and planners are looking to increase funding for preventative work they need to look no further than what is already under their noses! The problems are that savings can be hard to prove, and they must understand that voluntary does not mean cheap or free. Money must be invested in groups and often these will not want to be scaled up, but with some work services could be replicated where they did not exist. At the same time funding has to be long term and ongoing not for short projects, and investment has to be made in support services for these groups – Well what did you expect me to say 🙂
All this takes time to set up and put in place; mechanisms to evaluate projects that do not put an unrealistic burden on groups have to be found; needs and gaps in provision need to be identified; publicity campaigns are needed to recruit volunteers as well as let people know what is happening. This does not happen with a three-week deadline which is what the sector have been given with the Better Care Fund, but with planning, forethought, and the desire to take some risks the voluntary sector can deliver better services and support for older people and save the health system money.