I heard about The King's Fund ‘Innovations in the delivery of care for older people’ conference through Twitter. The King's Fund wanted to showcase different innovative projects at the event and were inviting submissions. I immediately thought of the Rapid Response Adaptations Programme (RRAP). While it's not a traditional ‘care’ project, it is an excellent example of a successful partnership between housing, health and social care sectors, which are usually more 'fragmented'.
The majority of referrals to the RRAP programme are received through social care and health practitioners such as occupational therapists, social workers, physiotherapists and discharge nurses, who are happy to place their trust in our voluntary sector organisation to support their work. It is a real achievement that each Care & Repair agency, across all of the 22 local authority areas in Wales, has been able to develop such positive relationships with their health and social care teams.
The Rapid Response Adaptations Programme is funded by the Welsh Government and allows Care & Repair agencies to carry out minor adaptations, such as ramps and handrails, to enable people to return safely to their own homes following hospital discharge. These adaptations can also prevent the need for admission to hospital or residential care. The programme requires these adaptations to be completed within 15 working days, although jobs can be carried out immediately in response to a crisis.
For health professionals, not only are ‘hospital beds unblocked’, allowing clinical scheduling and prioritisation to improve, there are clear indications of cost savings through the programme. It has been estimated that £7.50 is saved in Health and Social Care costs for every £1 of public funding invested in RRAP.
A recent report found that, by 2017, demand for unpaid care will begin to exceed supply, and the ‘care gap’ will grow sharply from then onwards. In turn, pressures on A&E departments and hospitals are likely to increase, as fewer older people receive the care they need and more are likely to slip into crisis (IPPR 2014).
Care & Repair Cymru carried out a survey of stakeholders in 2011. One hundred per cent of respondents felt that RRAP had helped to delay or prevent the need for social care services.
Stakeholders told us:
• RRAP promotes independence in the home and therefore reduces long term dependency on care. 'People are able to remain in their own homes for longer and it reduces the demand for more costly support from social services.'
• 'There is benefit (from RRAP) to the quality of service users’ lives which is greatly overlooked but of great significance.'
It is recognised that most people, as they grow older, would like to remain living in their own homes (Wanless, 2006). The demand for services such as RRAP which contribute to enabling older people to remain living independently in their own homes is likely to increase as the ageing demographic increases. The programme has proved to be extremely cost effective and yet the service remains unique to Wales.
The benefits of the RRAP programme were recognised by The King's Fund panel and were presented to the audience at the conference on 18 June.
Whilst attending the conference, it was clear that most of the innovations showcased, all immensely exciting and inspiring, were mostly carried out within the confines of one local health area. Care & Repair, however, supported by Welsh Government funding, work across the whole of Wales, ensuring equity of service for older homeowners and not confined by boundaries. Hopefully, by sharing good practice through such events, older people across the UK will gain greater access to excellent services such as those showcased at the conference.
NB. In the previous year, Care & Repair agencies carried out almost 15,500 works through the Rapid Response Adaptations Programme.
Rachel Gingell, Policy and Research Officer
Care & Repair Cymru