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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 November 2005, 11:53 GMT
Push for elderly community care
elderly man
There are 19 pilot projects to help improve elderly care
Thousands of elderly people are being targeted with support to keep them out of hospital as part of a drive to improve care in the community.

Ministers have allocated 60m to 19 projects across England in a bid to help 150,000 older people at risk.

Many elderly people end up in hospital through falls and because their chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease get out of hand.

The schemes aim to offer people help at home and better access to services.

Dorset - The area has the highest proportion of over 75s. Council plans to split region into 33 clusters and appoint a "neighbourhood leader" to coordinate services. Resource centres to be set up in libraries, village halls and post offices to improve access
Leeds - Network of "dementia cafes" staffed by council, NHS and voluntary sector staff to be established across city to offer elderly people a chance to meet other patients and discuss their care needs
East Sussex - About 2,000 elderly people each year will receive early home visits in bid to assess their needs before they require hospital care. Support on offer includes home modifications, transport help and gardening services

The projects are being run by local authorities in tandem with NHS agencies and voluntary groups.

They include dementia cafes where patients and their carers can discuss their needs with officials from social services and the NHS.

Other pilots involve home visits to people deemed at risk of illness to arrange early home and transport support and special help for people who have suffered falls to adapt their homes.

People with long-term conditions will also be offered specialist services within the community in libraries, village halls and post offices.

The Partnership for Older People pilots, which will start in May next year followed by a second wave 12 months later, are part of a drive to improve community services to be unveiled in a white paper at the turn of the year.


Experts estimate that by reducing falls by just a third could save the public sector 175m.

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt said: "We know, because older people tell us, that they want to live independently for as long as possible.

"Too many older people are being admitted to hospital, often as an emergency, when this could be avoided if the right community services were in place at the right time."

Jonathan Ellis, policy manager at Help the Aged, added: "The shift to place greater emphasis on promoting good health and well being for older people is a welcome step forward.

"A preventative approach to older people's health is vital to ensure not only the well being and quality of life of all people as they grow older but to alleviate some of the pressures on resources as our ageing population increases."

Shadow Health Minister Simon Burns said the plans had to be matched by "considerable improvements on the ground".

"I am concerned that the new partnership will simply be yet another government initiative where action on the ground does not match initial rhetoric."

Alzheimer's Society chief executive Neil Hunt said: "Preventative services that support people to stay in their own homes are particularly important.

"However, we believe that these kind of services should be part of the main stream."

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