Independence in older age
As people get older, it becomes harder to remain independent because of the increasing risk of ill health, poverty and social isolation.
Most people would prefer to remain living in their own homes for as long as possible. Without the right support, however, some older people feel they have no option but to move to residential or nursing care losing their own homes. Some people who do remain at home, but who suffer from ill health, live with a poor quality of life.
The number of older people still at home 91 days after discharge from hospital into the reablement/rehabilitation service is measured as part of the Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework. It shows the number of older people (aged 65 and over) discharged from acute or community hospitals to their own home, or a rehabilitation setting, with the clear intention that they will move back to their own home. This is as a percentage of the total number of older people discharged from hospitals in England.
Approximately 90% of people aged 65 and over living in Bracknell Forest discharged into reablement/rehabilitation services were still at home 91 days after leaving hospital.
Facts, figures and trends
Although the percentage of over 70 year olds is relatively low in Bracknell, their needs for Social Care and Health can be high due to poor health and increasing frailty.
By 2021 the population in Bracknell Forest is estimated to increase by almost 12,000 people. Figure 1 shows the percentage change in population for each age group and gender. The lines to the left of the vertical line show population groups which are estimated to decrease in size and these are mainly the 40 to 54 year old population and teenage children. All other age groups are estimated to have an increase in size as is shown by the bars to the right of the vertical line on the chart. The older population is expected to increase at the greatest rate followed by the younger adult population and the child population aged 5 to 14
Figure 1: Percentage change in population estimated from 2012 to 2021
Source: Office for National Statistics
Information from Projecting Older People Population Information show that around 6,000 people aged 65 and over living in Bracknell Forest are estimated to be unable to manage at least one domestic task on their own, with this figure estimated to increase to just fewer than 7,000 by 2020. The number of older people estimated to be unable to manage at least one self-care activity task on their own also rises from 5,000 people in 2012 to 5,500 by 2020.
Reducing the digital divide
Academic research funded by the RCUK Digital Economy programme (2013) found that information communication technologies (ICT) and in particular broadband can benefit areas and people experiencing economic and social disadvantage by connecting people and places, businesses and services.
Broadband and superfast broadband is now considered to be essential to the economy and should be treated as a necessary infrastructure for new and existing communities. It may also increase access to remote educational and employment opportunities and from a wellbeing perspective, education and employment are both important determinants of health.
As the “internet of things” progresses, interconnection via the Internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data will become common place, e.g. delivering live and instantaneous remote patient monitoring and health related information and education for patients and professionals and vulnerable residents will be digitally connected and monitored by health and social care professionals through internet enabled assistive technologies. It can help to reduce social isolation and loneliness in communities, supporting improved mental health and wellbeing.
National & local strategies (current best practices)
The following reports and documents give an overview of national and local strategy:
Department of Health (2009), Intermediate Care – Halfway Home: Updated Guidance for the NHS and Local Authorities
Local Action on Health Inequalities: Improving access to green spaces (Public Health England, 2014) - a summary of evidence about the positive impact of access to green spaces on self-rated health, wellbeing, obesity and overweight levels, reduced social isolation and independence.
What is this telling us?
There are a small number of people living in Bracknell who can no longer live independently and have had to move out of their homes. This is likely to rise as the numbers of older people living in Bracknell rises.
What are the key inequalities?
Some older people will not be able to make choices about where and how they live their lives.
What are the unmet needs/ service gaps?
- insufficient provision of extra care housing
- insufficient number of agencies providing care for people living in their own homes
- lack of support for owner occupiers in maintaining their own homes
- lack of specialist help for those living in their homes who are suffering from dementia and their carers
- lack of support for older people who have no family or friends to support them
- insufficient support for people who fall
Recommendations for consideration by other key organisations:
- Local Authority could work with local housing providers to develop extra care sheltered housing schemes
- Local Authority could seek to increase the number of agencies to provide care for people living in their own homes
- Local Authority could work with the housing department to develop a comprehensive ‘handyman’ scheme to help older people to ensure their properties are well maintained
- Health and Social Care could develop networks of specialist help for people suffering from dementia and their carers
- Local Authority could work with the voluntary sector and local businesses to develop a network of informal support for older people who are socially isolated
- Local Authority and the CCG could work together to provide more support for people who fall
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