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CSP welcomes cash boost for older people's services

The government has announced £ 60 million funding for councils to develop innovative ways to help older people live independently for longer.

The Partnerships for older people project (POPP) aims to encourage English councils to work with the NHS, local government and the voluntary and community sectors to develop new approaches which help older people avoid emergency hospital visits.

The CSP has welcomed the cash injection as a 'positive step forward'. Chief executive Phil Gray said: 'As part of our drive to promote independence for older people, over the past year we have released figures that show significant variations in council provision of services and have called on them to improve care services available to older people to ensure that they maintain their independence...

'Physiotherapists are putting enormous effort into rehabilitation for older people… It is wasted if there are not adequate support services provided by local authorities to help older people lead an active and independent life at home.'

To date, councils have focused on reducing delayed discharge from hospital. POPP's emphasis will be on reducing the need for hospital admission in the first place. Successful projects will adopt approaches that promote healthy and independent living, including active rehabilitation and falls prevention services.

While for some in the health arena the kind of cross-sector working suggested by the government will be new, physios are already working across health and social care to improve quality of life for older people. For the past two years in south London, Greenwich social services and teaching primary care trust has been providing a falls prevention service for older people.

The case-finding service uses a simple questionnaire to identify those at risk of falling and then refers them to a multiprofessional team (comprising a physio, district nurse, occupational therapist and rehab assistants) for assessment, support and an exercise programme, if needed. All this takes place in the person's home, not in hospital.

As well as working to prevent falls, the team is also linking up with the London Ambulance Service to reduce unnecessary hospital admissions. Ambulance staff are being trained to recognise when there is nothing medically wrong with a person who has had a fall. In such cases they contact the falls team to carry out further assessment, rather than taking them to accident and emergency.

Further information about POPP and guidance to support applicants is available from the Department of Health website: www.dh.gov.uk

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