By 2011 telecare had evolved slowly in Aberdeen and it became evident that in order to mainstream efficiently it had to be incorporated into the Community Alarm service. We were then faced with the issue that we required additional staff to assess, review and more importantly raise awareness on telecare provision. Both professionals and the public had little knowledge of the benefits of telecare and how vital it was as part of the Community Care Assessment.
Studies showed that very few members of the public considered Telecare until/unless the option was highlighted to them by a health or social care professional. The project has the opportunity to raise staff awareness eg by road shows, so that they in turn can be more confident in highlighting to service users and carers. Many people had been issued with telecare through funding from the National Telecare Development Programme, but the provision had never been reviewed. Although professionals understood the concept of telecare, information on referrals received demonstrated the lack of knowledge on how the equipment functioned and what the best solution was for the person.
Prior to telecare being incorporated into the community alarm service, the post holders carried out maintenance, repairs and battery management for the former Grampian Region. As telecare was developing each area established their own methods of working and this enabled Aberdeen City to utilise the post holders for the telecare service. Their wealth of knowledge and expertise allowed the service to develop rapidly, once the decision had been taken to incorporate with community alarm.
It is important to look for underlying reasons why people fall and if these are preventable. We know that falls record the highest total length of stay for all admissions and can result in a fracture with the associated loss of confidence and lengthy rehabilitation. Many older people have a ‘community alarm’ and use this to call for help when they have fallen with immediate support provided through the Social Care Response Service (SCRS). Information relating to the call out is gathered by the service and logged, however the information is not shared and other than GP/Emergency service referrals, there is no pathway from the service to falls clinics, etc.
This Example of Practice focuses on a range of initiatives within one specialist older person’s housing complex which included straight forward design enhancements and provision of respite accommodation. There were two overarching issues:
the design and accessibility of specialist older person’s housing common areas and the impact this has on older people’s capacity to be involved in social interaction opportunities; and
the aim to improve the range of respite options available to older people and their carers.
It was identified that participation from tenants and older people from the wider community was significantly hampered by the design and layout of specialist older person’s housing common areas. The accessibility issues to access the common room coupled with the design of the actual common areas had resulted in some instances that tenants were unable to gain access to the common areas unaided and when using the common areas were particularly limited in their capacity to engage in activities safely.
The common areas were accessed via traditional fire doors and the design although a relatively new build purpose built specialist development presented challenges for older people who had a memory problem, physical disability or frailty or visual impairment.
Access to social opportunities and engagement in meaningful activities is crucial in maintaining and improving health and wellbeing and is of particular importance within specialist older persons housing in helping older people feel socially included and connected within their communities.
Improving support for carers was also identified as a priority and the development of new respite provision within the specialist older person’s housing complex was also an objective.