Age UK Pioneers New Approach to Care for Older People

Published on February 11th, 2016

Ashford and Canterbury have become the latest areas to benefit from an innovative approach to care for older people that was first trialed in Cornwall in 2011 onwards. The Age UK Living Well Programme in Kent will aim to improve the quality of healthcare for up to 500 older people in Canterbury and Ashford using a new model of integrating local voluntary and statutory services to address older people’s needs.  This work will also place Kent at the forefront of best practice in transforming the way services are provided to older people, ahead of such services being rolled out across the UK.

The programme In Ashford and Canterbury is costing a total of £265,000, and has been made possible by a grant of £100,000 from the Roger De Haan Charitable Trust, with the remainder coming from statutory organisations and clinical commissioning groups. 

The Living Well Programme is an innovative, person-centric model for the delivery of integrated health and social care for older people with long-term conditions involving Age UK staff and volunteers working as part of a primary care led, multi-disciplinary team. This sees a shift away from managing conditions through a series of separate medical interventions to putting individuals in control of their own health and well-being, enabling them to regain their independence and improve the quality of their life in a more sustainable way.

A full evaluation is being carried out of the Cornwall programme, the pilot for which began in 2011, but interim results indicate a 20% average improvement in wellbeing with an 8% reduction in social care costs. There has been a 41% reduction in acute hospital costs, including 36% reduction in emergency admissions, a 49% reduction in overall admissions and 13% reduction in outpatient attendance. This would seem to indicate that the approach is highly effective, and if it can be delivered on a large scale has the potential to transform the lives of older people. Extending the programme to Ashford and Canterbury will provide an opportunity to further develop a robust and statistically sound evidence base from multiple locations to give Clinical Commissioning Groups the assurance they need regarding its impact and cost-effectiveness on a long-term basis.

The Age UK Living Well Programme in Kent is a partnership between The Roger De Haan Charitable Trust, Kent County Council, Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust, NHS Ashford Clinical Commissioning Group, NHS Canterbury and Coastal Clinical Commissioning Group, Age UK Faversham & Sittingbourne, Age UK Herne Bay, and Age UK.