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Blog: Choosing Health and Choosing Life

13th October

Angela Bradford, Commissioning and Healthy Lifestyle Director at The ExtraCare Charitable Trust, explains why investment in the charity’s later life well-being services pays off.   Angela presents the findings of a three year research study into the cost and value of the service at the King's Fund Integrated Care Summit on October 13th 2015.

It’s 10 years since the Department of Health published its Choosing Health White Paper which set out the case for active ageing in promoting health and well-being and it's 13 years since our Well-being Programme became an integral part of life at our retirement villages and housing schemes. Were we ahead of the game? Well, we like to think so.

We launched the Well-being Programme back in 2002 following a survey that highlighted that 75% of residents at one of our housing schemes hadn’t accessed any health screening via their GPs or the NHS. We undertook a pilot screening programme which identified that amongst a group of 136 people there were 122 previously undetected conditions; many of them potentially serious.

Our Well-being Programme, pump-primed by the Department of Health and now funded by donations and charitable support, is now established as a proactive health screening, information and advice service available to all ExtraCare residents. It regularly picks up previously undetected conditions and improves the quality of life and care of residents, whilst saving the NHS money and relieving pressure on local GPs.

We employ Well-being Advisors at each of our locations, offering our own assessment tool and screening programme based on 10 key factors:-

Diet, Mobility, Bladder and Bowel Health, Heart and Circulation, Breathing, Hearing and Sight, Skin, Fitness, Spiritual and Psychological Well-being and Sleep.

Each resident receives a Well-being Score and a radar diagram which provides them with a visual representation of their current health in the above areas and enables us to map their progress over time.

We also offer a drop-in service where any resident with health concerns or issues can meet with a Well-being Advisor to share their concerns and receive appropriate information, advice and guidance or referral to a GP for further investigation.

Our residents value our Well-being Service and research has proved that integrating preventative healthcare and screening services as part of our overall offering is better for residents and also for health-care commissioners, with a 38% reduction on total NHS costs for our residents.

We’re currently working on an exciting new development which builds on our Well-being work and aims to predict our residents’ risk of becoming frail, thereby enabling us to intervene to try to prevent this.

Is investment in Well-being Services worth it? Let’s leave the last, perhaps life-saving, words to one of our charity’s residents, Arthur Webb*, who lives at Lark Hill Village in Nottingham:

‘Chrissie, she’s our Well-being Advisor, took my blood pressure and said it was far too high, so I should see my GP. I took no notice, and she was on to me, I thought I’d better go down. The doctor took my blood pressure and was straight on the phone and I was having a pacemaker. He said if I hadn’t come, I would have died. But I felt perfectly alright, which was why I hadn’t taken much notice - I do now!’

Find out more:  www.extracare.org.uk  

*Arthur Webb, Lark Hill Village:  1 min video

NHS: Choosing Health. Making healthy choices easier: NHS Report

Picture: Angela, second from left, with the Well-being Team - now in the finals for the 2015 Laing Buisson Awards for Innovation in Care