What was the issue you were addressing or working on?
The project allows early intervention with customers providing a range of services aimed at decreasing their reliance on medical or other statutory provision. Many of the customers were socially isolated and did not know how or where to access services and community supports OPAL allows for the customer to gain information about local social activities, lunch clubs and advice and information on such issues as benefits, income generation, housing, support for carers and volunteering.
What you did?
A partnership was developed between three key voluntary sector organisations working collectively with public sector partners to develop a phone line and support processes for dealing with calls; including the use of the CAB information system and specialist advice on Advocacy. Staff were trained to ensure a case managed approach to the client (person requiring help or wishing to volunteer) was developed allowing for enquiries to be dealt with in a fully comprehensive manner. Contact was made with local GP surgeries and Social Work and Health teams to enable an understanding of the services available and increase referrals to OPAL. A full marketing exercise was carried out including attendance at older people drop-in centres, lunch clubs and other venues to inform people of the project. A recent development has also been to strengthen the carer element of the service through the formal incorporation of local voluntary sector organisation Carers Link.
Additional work has been carried out on improving the quality and capacity of voluntary organisations who may be involved in providing additional support services and one of the main partners received the European Framework for Quality Management Committed to Excellence Standard as part of the exercise.
The project has also worked closely with local forums to ensure community engagement and involvement was central to on-going development, allowing for continuous feedback, monitoring and evaluation.
What were the outcomes - benefits or otherwise?
The project has allowed for a more integrated approach between voluntary sector partners themselves, and between the sector and public sector partners. The project has allowed for a level of integration in service delivery which provides exciting opportunities for the future as the national integration agenda continues to move forward.
In the period since the Access Line opened in June 2012 to September 2013, there have been 420 advice referrals from various sources including Health (with GPs being one of the major sources of referral), Social Work, voluntary organisations and self-referrals.
In addition, capacity building work focussed on improvement planning has been carried out with over twenty local older people service organisations.