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Volunteer support programme 'cut admissions by a third'

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Emergency admissions reduced by around a third in a group of patients which was given volunteer support to combat dependency on health and care services, an evaluation has said.

Cornwall’s Living Well programme identifies people dependent on services, and often socially isolated, and matches them to trained voluntary sector workers.

They receive one to one support from volunteers with the aim of helping them become more physically and socially active. They also get care plans and care co-ordinated by a GP practice-based team including the voluntary sector.

“We are at the start of a journey to transform the way care is co-ordinated”

Joy Youart

Living Well was developed and is jointly run with Age UK’s integrated care programme and supports 1,572 people in Penwith, Newquay and east Cornwall.

An evaluation was completed recently for Age UK based on 325 people who were part of the programme from January 2014 to January 2015.

Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group, which covers Cornwall, said this week that this work found a 34% reduction in emergency hospital admissions, a 21% reduction in emergency attendances, and a 32% reduction in total hospital admissions.

It compared rates of activity for the group during 2014 to those before the support began.

Kernow CCG managing director Joy Youart said: “We are at the start of a journey to transform the way care is co-ordinated by bringing together health, social care, the voluntary sector and communities.

“Our vision is for an integrated system that enables people to access seamless care to help them live the lives they want,” he added.

“By relying on conventional health and care services we’ve seen time and time again older people are being let down”

Pam Creaven

Age UK director of services Pam Creaven said: “By relying on conventional health and care services we’ve seen time and time again older people are being let down and having to struggle on alone or being admitted to hospital when it could be prevented.

“Living Well shows that when professional groups are committed to working successfully together, pressures across the health and care system can be dramatically eased and, with support, people can live better quality lives,” she said.

Age UK is now working with NHS and local authorities to introduce similar programmes, involving the voluntary sector as well as integrated health and care, to around 6,500 people across eight other areas. These are:

  • Portsmouth
  • North Tyneside
  • Ashford and Canterbury
  • Redbridge, Barking and Havering
  • Sheffield
  • Guildford and Waverley
  • East Lancashire
  • Blackburn with Darwen
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