Strategy launched for care of our elderly


Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

When 77-year old Michael suffered the heartbreak of his wife dying he was left facing a lonely future.

The keen dominoes player, of Lakenham, turned to help from Marion Road Day Centre in Norwich – and is now an active member of its community.

There are thousands of people across East Anglia whose story mirrors Michael's, but with a less happy outcome.

This has prompted a partnership of charities, health and social services, to launch a three-year strategy with more than 35 objectives for the wellbeing of elderly people across Norfolk.

Its aim is to influence the decisions of Norfolk's health and social services, to give elderly people what they want, according to Joyce Hopwood, chairman of the Norfolk Older People's Strategic Partnership.

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She believes the strategy, which identifies seven key areas for the elderly including housing and loneliness, is realistic.

'We have discussed each point with the relevant department or people expected to be able to deliver our objective, and they have said each point is achievable.

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'It is only possible with co-operation and determination.

She said the partnership would be holding the decision-makers to account to ensure the strategy's goals are achieved.

The partnership is made up of the district's Older People Forums, and Norfolk County Council, the NHS, charities, voluntary organisations, and the private care sector.

The launch of their strategy comes as new figures revealed the number of people living to the ripe age of 100 or more has increased by 72pc in the last decade.

Nearly one in four Norfolk residents is aged 65 or over, and that figure is expected to increase rapidly in the years ahead.

'There has never been so little money in relation to how many people need support,' Ms Hopwood said. 'With the demand increasing and there being less money, the situation becomes extremely difficult and means people have to find a different way of working so there is no duplication.'

The strategy aims to tackle issues which can affect many elderly people, such as loneliness, isolation, depression, and anxiety.

Transport, housing, and helping people discharged from hospitals are also identified as key areas where decision-makers must make improvements.

'Loneliness and isolations is one of the major problems of our time,' Ms Hopwood said. 'We would like to think it's possible there could be a real regeneration of community spirit. It can be a question of knocking on a neighbours' door to ask if they are OK and might need something from the shop.'

For Michael, the day centre is one example of a service provided to the elderly which has prevented him from suffering in silence.

He said: 'This sort of centre provides a place for older people to visit which otherwise isn't widely available.

'Without the centre I would be bored at home.'

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