Living Well changes people’s lives
It starts with a conversation between equals – a voluntary sector worker trained in motivational interviewing talking to someone who has become highly dependent on formal care, often socially isolated, about their hopes and ambitions. This guided conversation is the foundation for a tailored package of support delivered by an integrated health, social care and voluntary sector team, centred on the person’s GP practice. Small, incremental, confidence-building steps with support from volunteers help the person get back to a life that is closer to friends, family and community. Whether it’s helping to rearrange a kitchen, making a rag rug or taking a ride in a vintage plane, the key is finding the spark that will motivate the person to re-engage. Health and wellbeing improvements happen almost as a side-affect, when the main focus is helping the person to live the life they want to live, to the best of their ability.
This all began five years ago with a small pilot of 100 people in Newquay. Our Triple Aims were to improve health and wellbeing, improve the experience of care for everyone involved, and reduce the cost of care. Early results showed us that the approach is helping people to feel better, helping practitioners to feel that they are making a more positive contribution, and reducing demand on health and social care services. People who had been housebound for years, in and out of hospital, are engaging with family and friends once more, even choosing to reduce their care packages now that they are more socially active.
Living Well continues to go from strength to strength and we are now supporting over 2,000 people across the county. Alongside our teams of volunteers and co-ordinators we deliver a cultural change programme, engaging local people and practitioners in finding ways to improve care and do what’s right for those who need our help. The emphasis is on ground-up ownership with a very local flavour, aligned with natural communities. This is not a flash-in-the-pan project: one in five people who have been supported through Living Well are becoming volunteers themselves, wanting to help others. The volunteers have told us, “if the funding runs out, don’t worry – we know what to do now”. The ripple effect is moving across all parts of health, social care and the voluntary and community sector.
We are tremendously excited by the results of a matched cohort analysis that has just been completed, which has demonstrated that emergency department attendances have reduced by nearly a third, emergency hospital admissions have reduced by 37.4 per cent, and there is a net saving of £1,500 per person per year across the whole system. Our ‘quiet revolution’ is slowly turning the tide – saving money, changing behaviour, and changing lives.