Since our One Day conference one year ago, a lot has changed. Not just in the wider world with the vote for Brexit and the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States but also in what continues to affect older people.
The BBC’s social affairs correspondent Alison Holt told the audience at our conference to look at the issues of importance to the growing number of older people that social care for older people was often a subject that news editors would rarely consider covering. But social care for older people is something the media is focusing more and more these days, whether it is NHS funding affecting people getting home from hospital or cut backs in council budgets for support at home or care home fees.
Indeed, we found ourselves hosting one of Alison’s television reports into adult social care when she visited The Homestead, our care home near Oxford, and interviewed our regional director Karen Slater on the impact of the adult social care funding crisis on care homes and other pressures.
What has been great to see is how the Centre for Ageing Better has flourished in the year since its CEO Anna Dixon spoke to the audience at Methodist Central Hall in Westminster at One Day on understanding the barriers and enablers to a good older life.
Since then, we have been able to give our views as the Centre builds its evidence about what works to help everyone enjoy a good later life. We contributed to their high level workshop on integrating housing, health and care, making sure our experience of working with, and caring for, older people over the past 74 years is listened to.
The issue of loneliness among older people was highlighted by The Silverline founder Dame Esther Rantzen who called for each and every one of us to look out for our older family, friends and neighbours and do our bit to combat loneliness.
Here at MHA we’ve been working hard to increase the number of people supported by our Live at Home schemes. We now support more than 10,000 older people who live independently in their own home, providing them with companionship, activities, practical support and friendship.
Our Good Deed-cember appeal focused on asking people to do a good deed for an older person in the run up to Christmas and to support us to continue doing good deeds year-round for older people to combat their loneliness and isolation. And we know it’s working, as Horsforth Live at Home member Joan Wilson says …
‘Live at Home activities help me to live at home and keep my independence. I just love to sit and natter with others. The company’s great. The biggest challenge to living at home alone is the loneliness. You can really make strong friendships here.’
We want to continue growing the number of older people we support through our Live at Home schemes, as well as through our retirement living communities and care homes.
We want to create communities that care for older people, making sure we provide good quality care and support where and when it is needed. Our work in this area has been going well since we held One Day. Two of our care homes have been rated ‘outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission and we have more than the national percentage of homes and schemes rated as ‘good’.
But we want to do more. Which is why we’ve been growing and strengthening our links and relationships with others to help us provide practical ways for happy ageing. We work with Live Music Now, the fabulous older person’s choir Bolder Voices, myth busting with Ageing Without Children and many more.
We’ve made sure our voice and those of older people are being heard at the highest levels through our responses to Government inquiries and consultations on issues that affect older people.
You can be assured that the next 12 months from MHA will build on this past year. As we head towards our 75th anniversary we will work to make sure we continue to tackle loneliness and isolation among older people, making sure we create many more communities that care for them now and for the future.