Falkirk older people make their feelings plain

Vision is to see older people to live in their own homes or within homely settings
Vision is to see older people to live in their own homes or within homely settings

Old folk have given social workers and health staff some plain talking about 
plans for looking after the elderly.

After they were consulted on a document laying out strategy for the next three years, the senior citizens criticised it as “too complicated” and said it should have been written in clear, accessible language.

Now officials have taken comments on board and are going torewrite the important proposal.

Falkirk Council and NHS Forth Valley are required by the Scottish Government to produce a Strategic Joint Commissioning Plan for Services for Older People (JCP) as part of its Reshaping Care for Older People change programme.

The local authority and health board worked with CVS Falkirk and District and Scottish Care to draw up the document.

They consulted widely on the draft proposal over three months and around 150 people took part in two large events, in five discussion groups and filled in questionnaires.

The overall vision of the project is to enable older people in the Falkirk Council area to live full and positive lives in their own homes or, when this is not possible, within homely settings in supportive communities.

However, while supporting the overall plan, many people identified “significant challenges” needing to be overcome, particularly ensuring the proposal is written in plain English so everyone understands it.

Officials have now vowed to re-draft the plan to include the views and comments made, ensuring it is in clear, easy to comprehend language.

One of the key themes running throughout the consultation feedback was that older people should be recognised as an asset to communities and not treated as a burden.

People also argued organisations and staff need to develop skills to help them engage with and provide care for older people and their families.

As the Scottish Government pushes local authority and NHS services to develop a joined-up approach to caring for the elderly, the older population themselves are concerned about how this will be carried out.

Feedback showed changes faced by older people often happen when there is a crisis, which makes everything more difficult.

There was concern that people whose lives are changing should not have to worry about which service is helping them or providing the same information over and over.

While everyone agreed it was important to avoid hospital admissions where possible, and there should be help to allow people to move back home as quickly as possible with the support needed to help them recover, the importance of health and social care agencies dealing with issues constructively was stresssed.

There were also concerns about visits to Forth Valley Royal Hospital, particularly physical ease of access and signposting.

Reporting to Falkirk Council’s recent executive committee, Stuart Ritchie, director of corporate and neighbourhood services, said: “We recognise the need to work together to provide co-ordinated care and support for older people, their carers and families living in the Falkirk area.”

Councillor Linda Gow, a member of the health board, said: “This is a very big step on the way to taking forward the joint working expected of us.”

Council leader Councillor Craig Martin said: “This is an excellent and very important document.”