Older People Living with Cancer

Peer advocates supporting older people affected by cancer

People will see health and social care fully joined-up by 2018

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Coordination will see better care and support, fewer people falling through the cracks and a drop in patients needlessly stuck in hospitals.

An end to people passed around the health and social care system thanks to uncoordinated services will follow plans unveiled by Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb on Tuesday 14th May.

As OPAAL partners know only too well from their experience advocating for older people struggling to cope with the vagaries of the current health and social care system joined-up health and community care is not currently the norm, leaving people often getting disjointed care and support, not designed to suit their needs.

Now the biggest ever commitment to making coordinated health and care a reality has been launched. Government and key players in the health and care field have published plans that will see them working together to put people first.

The plans, which will be delivered by national leaders and local areas working closely together, include:

• An ambition to make joined-up and coordinated health and care the norm by 2018 – with projects in every part of the country by 2015;
• The first ever agreed definition of what people say good integrated care and support looks and feels like – this work by National Voices gives areas a clear vision to work towards;
• New “pioneer” areas around the country appointed by September 2013 – they will be selected by a panel of experts, both national and international, who will be looking for the innovative, practical approaches needed to achieve change as quickly as possible; and
• New measures of people’s experience of joined up care and support by the end of this year so we can start to see whether people are feeling the benefits of the change.

Currently, people often fall through the cracks between the NHS and care and support provided in the community. Issues include:

• people having to re-tell their story every time they encounter a new service;

• people not getting the support they need because different parts of the system don’t talk to each other or share appropriate information and notes;

• older people discharged from hospital to homes not adapted to their needs, only to deteriorate or fall and end up back in A&E – cutting emergency readmissions will bring a much better experience for patients;

• home visits from health or care workers at different times, with no effort to fit in with people’s requirements;

Of particular concern to OPAAL and partners is the lack of communication between other professionals and advocates speaking up for older people, often born out of a fear of increased complaints. This is frequently due to a lack of understanding about the advocacy role and in particular how this can complement other professionals work. We would like to see all older people being discharged from hospitals accessing independent advocacy services to ensure older people’s needs are heard and provided for.

The full report can be found here:-

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/integrated-care?dm_i=4O5,1HOHE,3FYDVW,52G9T,1

The letter inviting expressions of interest for Health and Social Care Integration Pioneers can be found here:-

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/social-care-integration-pioneers?dm_i=4O5,1HOHE,3FYDVW,52G9T,1

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Author: kathparson

Chief Executive of Older People's Advocacy Alliance (UK)

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