When good care can promote independence and strengthen communities

Bill Borrett, chairman of Adult Social Care at Norfolk County Council, wants people to be in their o

Bill Borrett, chairman of Adult Social Care at Norfolk County Council, wants people to be in their own home wherever possible, with support if required. Picture: Matthew Usher - Credit: Archant

Bill Borrett, chairman of Adult Social Care at Norfolk County Council, wants to talk about care.

Iwant to encourage people to start thinking about care sooner rather than later, putting themselves in the 'driving seat' so that they can make good choices.

In the past, when people have thought about adult social care, they think of care homes and day centres – but research shows that people are happier and healthier if they can continue to live independently for as long as possible in their own homes.

And that is what's driving Norfolk County Council's ambition to modernise care, to shape the future and better meet the needs of the people who need to use it, and their families.

We want the market to offer care services that reflect people's changing needs and expectations for the way they live in later life.

The Care Act (2014) has also driven this, by putting a new emphasis on wellbeing and independence. We all know we have a growing, older population. At the moment, there are more than 14,000 adult social care users in Norfolk, of which 60pc are aged 65 and over, and 19pc have learning disabilities. And we have 16,000 people with dementia, a number that will rise by an estimated 9,000 over the next 20 years.

The council works with a wide range of private and voluntary sector providers and they employ thousands of people to provide care, in nursing and care homes, day care and home care – making adult social care one of the biggest employers in the region and one that we are committed to support.

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We will, of course, continue to fund residential care for those who need it. However, we want to use residential and nursing care as a last resort, to get people home from hospital as quickly as possible.

We want to put a greater emphasis on preventative support – helping people to avoid developing serious problems in the first place – encouraging them to stay active, both physically and mentally, or by using new technology to transform people's quality of life before decline begins.

For people who continue to require support, we want that to be in their own home wherever possible. We want home care to focus on enablement and the restoration of independence.

This fits in with the council's vision of promoting independence, and will involve strengthening support in communities, supporting the thousands of unpaid carers who help keep people in the homes they love and providing great information, advice and support to people, so that they can be independent, resilient and well.

Changing the way we provide care will signal a significant shift in how we engage with our care consumers for the future, regardless of whether you pay for your care or not.

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