7. Day Opportunities
In recent years there has been a significant shift in the way day opportunities are accessed and participation within the community is supported, these changes will continue in response to customer expectation and demographic pressure.
The council concluded its ‘What people do in the day’ review in 2013 which recognised that significant progress has been made in modernising services and providing more individualised and personal solution to support people in their lives. There are no longer any large scale day centres in South Gloucestershire and there is a very diverse range of community and smaller scale building based provision provided by the independent and not for profit sector and by the local authority, with the majority of capacity being commissioned either by the council or by Direct Payment recipients.
In South Gloucestershire we are working hard to promote a presumption of employability, working to ensure that all disabled people have the opportunities and support to live fulfilling lives and are supported to develop their skills and interests whenever possible leading to employment, self-employment or contributing to their community in other ways. Sustaining this approach requires everyone to work together and to start by raising the aspirations of young people, ensuring that there is easy access appropriate learning and training, work experience and volunteering opportunities and support to enable young people to develop the skills for independent living and getting out and about within the community. The council has established a 0-25 disability service and together with the consolidation of the existing employment support services in South Gloucestershire, continues to help drive an improved emphasis on employment. A new work plan is in place which includes the task of establishing the new employment support model, focused around developing a presumption of employability and ensuring effective tailored support is available for individuals to access. Dedicated staff resources are now in place to establish the new approach and work is currently being undertaken on establishing a recognised provider list of support organisations as well as building links with key stakeholders.
Loneliness and social isolation can affect everyone but older people are particularly vulnerable after the loss of friends and family, reduced mobility or limited income. It is estimated that among those aged over 65, between 5 and 16 per cent report loneliness and 12 per cent feel isolated. These figures are likely to increase due to demographic developments including family dispersal and the ageing of the population. Studies show that acute loneliness and social isolation can impact gravely on wellbeing and quality of life, with demonstrable negative health effects. It is also associated with depression (either as a cause or as a consequence) and higher rates of mortality. The influence of social relationships on the risk of death are comparable to well-established risks such as smoking and alcohol consumption. Health issues arising from loneliness and isolation add pressure on statutory health and social care services. In South Gloucestershire we recognise that by intervening in this issue, we can improve older people’s quality of life, while limiting dependence on more costly services. Partners are working together to tackle loneliness and isolation through the successful Precious Time partnership. Precious Time recognises that everybody has skills and talents that can benefit someone else, it promotes principles of reciprocity and mutual respect. In order to ensure that people benefit from strong natural support networks we are keen to ensure that people are able to participate in activities and groups within their own communities and neighbourhoods. South Gloucestershire has a strong and vibrant community sector with we continue to work with partners to strengthen this, promoting an asset based approach building community capacity rather than seeking to provide services.
We have also commissioned Community Connectors who are recruiting and supporting a range of volunteers across South Gloucestershire to support isolated older people to become more socially active in their communities. This has complemented the existing learning difficulties and mental health community connector and community capacity building work that has been done in and around Downend.
The approach to supporting people affected by dementia in South Gloucestershire places a significant emphasis on ensuring people can continue to live an active life and remain as independent as possible within their community. This approach promotes inclusion and seeks to ensure that there are opportunities and support for people to participate in activities and groups that appeal to their interests. We have seen an increasing range of community based activities being established across South Gloucestershire and continue to promote this approach. The community led work to develop Patchway and Cribbs Causeway as a dementia friendly community is starting to have a real impact, the influence from which is being shared across South Gloucestershire.
The council’s remaining in-house day services have now been redesigned making use of the modern purpose built facilities available to them. The new service model is designed to support a reducing number of individuals but recognises that for a small proportion of the population there remains a need for particularly accessible facilities. Expanded space is now in use at Cambrian Green, Yate as a South Gloucestershire wide centre of excellence for dementia day care. Learning Difficulties Day Centres at Kingswood and Thornbury have been brought under single management. Downend Day Centre has been closed and services relocated to Kingswood. The new promoting independence service is a community facing service operating from Kingswood and Thornbury working with individuals to achieve agreed outcomes with a particular emphasis on moving on to become more independent. The dementia service in Yate complements and engages with community based support and as individuals’ needs become greater.