Almost 100,000 older people have benefited so far from a £60m scheme to keep them in their homes and out of hospital and residential care, according to a report published yesterday by Care Services Minister Phil Hope.
Partnerships for Older People Projects (POPPs) was launched in 2006 with the aim of helping older people to remain independent and prevent or delay the need for more intense care.
The projects help older people by, for example, doing their shopping or gardening, making sure they get help in collecting prescriptions and advice on taking medicines and targeting those who may be at risk of hospital admission.
The interim report of the pilot projects found that:
99,988 people had received or were receiving a service as part of POPP in 29 pilot sites.
Elderly people using the service found their quality of life (mobility, washing/dressing, pain, anxiety) improved.
For every £1 spent on POPP interventions, 73p will be saved on the cost of emergency hospital bed-days.
Because POPP services have led to fewer days in hospital, the overall cost of care has been reduced by £410 per person.
Speaking at the National Children and Adult Services (NCAS) conference, Phil Hope said: "In 20 years' time a quarter of the entire adult population in England will be over 65 and the number of people over 85 will have doubled. We want to ensure that older people can live as independently as possible and have great quality of life - POPP schemes can help them to do just that.
"I want these services to be available in more areas of the country – every older person has the right to be helped to stay healthy, active and independent. That's why we have today issued a toolkit to help every local authority, to set up high quality services that will make a real difference to older people's lives."
One woman who was helped through the POPP project in Poole, was Freda, an 82-year-old woman who fell and injured her leg. The leg needed regular dressing; however, Freda suffers from short-term memory loss and as a result was missing appointments at the surgery. As her leg was not getting the correct and regular treatment it deteriorated so much that it was being considered for a skin graft.
The practice nurse referred Freda to POPP, and with the assistance of a help and care volunteer driver Freda was able to keep her appointments at the surgery and her leg has now healed. Had POPP not been involved and found a means for her to keep her appointments, she would have been admitted to hospital for a skin graft.
"Our elderly population, housebound or those in residential or nursing homes, are being neglected. They are not having regular reviews, medication reviews, or check-ups. These patients, who usually have multiple chronic diseases, generate a lot of QOF income, so the time has come to care for the forgotten patients who do not turn up at the surgery with a sniffle, or place demands on doctors' time." - Name and address supplied