This month we were delighted to publish our second ‘Improving Lives, Saving Money’ report – Living Not Existing: Putting prevention at the heart of care for older people – which aims to tackle the unprecedented pressure on the social care system. A tailored version of the report was published by the Royal College in each of the four nations: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
We do not want a society where people talk of simply existing and not truly living. Too many health and social care services tell people what social care they will get based on what it is most efficient to provide, instead of asking what they really need, leading to costs arising elsewhere in the health and social care system. In our latest report, we argue that doing the right thing for individuals can reduce their need for expensive long-term care by enabling them to stay as active, independent and safe in the community for as long as possible. This gives older people back their dignity and helps the system perform better.
The report calls on policy-makers to identify a named person to report on outcomes in three key areas:
- The report calls for healthcare trusts and GPs to design services to make sure occupational therapists are based within primary care to delay or prevent the need for care and support.
- Responsible government bodies must work together to ensure that person-centred approaches are developed in social and community care using occupational therapists to ensure all older people live independently for as long as possible in their communities.
- Local government and healthcare providers should formally develop partnership agreements across local housing, health and social care sectors to ensure all older people have access to occupational therapy, irrespective of their social-economic conditions and location.
To accompany the launch of the report, the College held a round-table meeting in London’s iconic Shard, bringing together politicians and leaders from across health and social care. Our Chief Executive, Julia Scott, and President Baroness Hollins, were joined by Shadow Health Minister Julie Cooper, Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Norman Lamb, National Association of Primary Care President James Kingsland, and British Geriatrics Society President Eileen Burns among others, to discuss how the report’s recommendations can be implemented. Invitations were issued to ministers but they were unable to attend. Representatives from the Department of Health, the Department of Communities and Local Government, NHS England, and Public Health England were also present, taking back the report’s recommendations to their respective agencies across the health and care system.
In addition we produced a moving film which highlighted the value of the type of occupational therapy led approach we are advocating. The reports also received significant media coverage across the UK, with extensive coverage on ITV in the England and BBC TV and Radio in Wales and Northern Ireland. However, the publication of the report is by no means a job done. Following on from the report’s publicity and launch roundtable, the College will be working with our partners to replicate best practice more widely and seek to implement the report’s recommendations.