Changing the way we support older people

When given the choice older people would rather stay in their own homes, retaining their independence and staying in their communities than moving into residential care. 

With a good care plan that focuses on what the older person wants to achieve, how they want to achieve it and with the right level of community support this is possible.  This is how the Council supports many older people at the moment; it is how the Council wants to support more and more older people as the size of Swansea’s older population grows.  This is the policy direction from the Welsh Government.

The Well Being Performance Panel really got into the detail of this subject with officers this week.  The panel couldn’t disagree with the principle of providing the choice to older people about how and where they are supported as they get older.  But, and this was a big but for the panel, it questioned whether the community support infrastructure was available across Swansea to make this a reality.

For this to work the Council needs well developed and sustainable community support services such as day care, meals, homecare, respite, supported living, reablement.  As important to the success of this is the lower level of support that isn’t generally provided by the Council.  Things like community networks, social activities such as lunch clubs and befriending services which older people can tap into – things which may prevent them from needing more intensive interventions further down the line.

The panel’s main concern with this approach was that community support services, community capacity and networks take time to develop; the panel wasn’t convinced that enough alternative provision to residential care was out there yet.  And given the current budget situation the panel was worried that community support services would be reduced which would inhibit the delivery of this type of support to older people.  But on the other hand, it was argued that resources needed to be released to develop just the type of community support that older people wanted and needed to stay independent.

The panel felt unable to offer any firm conclusions until it had examined this in more detail.  It has asked the Cabinet Member to provide a number of background documents and the implementation plan so that panel members can look at this in much more detail that it was to last week.






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