Mind the Care Gap Campaign: We need a fresh approach to address health and care needs in our communities

21st January 2018 about a 4 minute read

This week the Mind the Care Gap campaign is looking at some of the challenges faced by those working on the frontline who are delivering community health and care services.

Future Care Capital is committed to nurturing community-led health and care initiatives so that people who wish to live independent lives can better access the support they need. The charity would therefore welcome the creation of a new civil society fund to stimulate pioneering and sustainable community-led solutions through locally controlled community health and care budgets.

Health and care provision need to be responsive to the challenges faced by people in later life.  People should be supported, where necessary, to maintain their independence and live in appropriate accommodation.

Care at home can be enabled in many ways – including better designed built environments, investment in assistive technologies, and improved support for people to manage their own health. Housing, the way in which local GP practices manage health and care needs, and how we resource community budgets to accommodate the needs of older people as they reach the end of their life, provide a focus for Future Care Capital’s campaign to address gaps in community provision this week.

In the course of developing Future Care Capital’s Mind the Care Gap Campaign, the charity visited the Willowbrook Medical Centre which operates a holistic approach to health and care needs. Willowbrook is in an area of Leicester City that has a larger than average proportion of people over 65 and where GPs are supported by an adult social care worker and a mental health nurse to meet the needs of older patients – delivering a joined-up response to older individuals’ care needs. The visit underlined that there are models of provision in local communities that are currently developing unified health and care delivery.

Dr Joshi, a General Practitioner in Leicester, talks about the Willowbrook’s approach to integrating health and care:

“…we got a social care worker to work with us. Later we were also able to get a mental health nurse too. So, the key idea was to look at a patient’s health and social care needs, including mental health, a holistic approach.”

Housing for older people in local areas is also a concern and must form part of any community-led strategy to address the needs of our ageing population. Sheltered housing forms an important part of housing options accessible to older and vulnerable people in local communities. Future Care Capital spoke to residents at one enhanced sheltered housing scheme who raised concerns about the number of people living there with complex and long-term mental and physical health conditions.

James Baterip, a resident at the enhanced sheltered housing scheme highlighted this issue:

“The staff in sheltered schemes are not qualified to deal with people with dementia or long-term mental health conditions. The staff will say this is not a care home, so they are not trained to deal with certain situations.”

This shows that in some local communities sheltered accommodation is under pressure to manage residents with complex mental and physical conditions, with limited resources to support their needs.

Dr Adam, Clinical Lead for End of Life Care in the East Midlands, noted that another area that is under pressure in the community is district nursing:

“I think the district nurses are the most stretched. If someone is dying at home and they have breathlessness or pain, we have already prescribed everything they need, the link is that the district nurse needs to come out and administer that medication and that can take two hours on average, and if you are in pain or looking after someone in pain that is a long time. I think the service gaps are the nursing teams, people on the ground that can go out and administer.”