‘Win-win situation’ for pioneering care scheme

Patricia Birchley of Bucks County Council
Patricia Birchley of Bucks County Council
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Prevention is better than cure and with that in mind Bucks County Council has launched a new £4 million scheme to provide vulnerable adults with early care.

The scheme, Prevention Matters, will run for an initial three years and aims to take a ‘common sense approach’ by working in tandem with district councils, the NHS and voluntary programmes.

Community practice workers will identify vulnerable people at GP surgeries and offer practical solutions such as lunch clubs and even attend with them if need be.

County council health and wellbeing chief Patricia Birchley said:“Prevention Matters allows us to provide a service early on when it can really make a difference to people’s quality of life, rather than waiting until things have gone wrong and extensive medical or care intervention is required.

“The more people use this the less use of services. It’s a win-win situation.”

Bucks had a 23.8% rise in the number of people over 65 in the decade up to 2010 with the trend set to continue.

The scheme began gradually in November and Prestwood GP Sian Roberts said the personal level of support has already proven crucial.

She said: “We had one lady coming in to see the GP with non-illness problems such as headaches and anxiety. Her husband had died and she came to live near her family.

“A community worker went to see her and took her to a lunch club. She now feels more part of the community.”

The scheme will have 15 such workers across the county providing their support and seven community link officers who will identify clubs and other opportunities for people to go to. Council strategic director for adults and family wellbeing Trevor Boyd said: “It’s best to think what would we want if our partner died. We would probably all want company at the time we need it.

“People don’t like to be lonely, particularly bereaved people who are at risk of getting ill. People are expecting more and through this programme we can offer it.”

Mr Boyd said he expects to see a 25% reduction in demand for health and social care through the programme and one study found that for every £1 spent on preventive social care £1.20 on NHS emergency beds is saved.

He added: “This was too good an opportunity to miss to try and do something different.”

Chief executive of mental health charity Bucks MIND Rob Michael-Phillips said: “The people who use the service are going to be happy, more active and more engaged.”