Supporting wellbeing – SWIFt progress

“I hadn't thought about being lonely until I realised I hadn't spoken to anyone for nearly a month. The only voice I'd heard was on the television. I know I should try to get out more."

We often consider how Time To Shine is reaching the most isolated. It is a constant issue and concern for us all to ensure the programme is making a difference to those who most need it as well as providing positive preventative activities.

In early 2016 we had the opportunity to consider a specific area of work in which to fund. We were particularly interested in the relationship with health professionals as many of the most isolated Older People may only come into contact with health professionals.

We spoke with member organisations of Leeds Older People’s Forum and asked what they felt was needed to effectively work with health partners and very isolated Older People. One theme emerged time and time again – capacity: having the capacity or time to build relationships. Relationships with local neighbourhood teams and referrers, as well as the time to chat and really get to know the older person’s needs without clock-watching.

We were in the fortunate position that through match-funding from Leeds Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) we were able to commission a flexible model which could work at the pace of the older person. This has proved invaluable. The SWIFt service (Supporting Wellbeing Independence for Frailty) in many ways hasn’t been new or innovative. The innovation comes from the flexibility and trust given to the projects to work on a one-to-one basis with older people to find what they want to do to improve their lives. The individual outcomes and case studies speak volumes as to the positive impact of the wonderful and compassionate project staff.

It has been a pleasure to work alongside these projects based in local communities and across the city to hear firsthand the difference the projects have made, just by taking the time to work one to one with an older person and help them acknowledge their own strengths.

Read our report on the work of the Supporting Wellbeing projects so far.

SWIFt has used a partnership approach from the start. Whether that is with local organisations, referrers, Leeds CCGs or Leeds City Council, we are delighted that this model will continue to be developed and evaluated through Leeds City Council.

Time to Shine places a huge emphasis on learning and testing out new approaches to delivery, both from the perspective of the individual older person and the wider impact of the work. The impact of SWIFt was measured, using individual NHS numbers, published in a report by the Health and Care Evaluation Service (Autumn 2018).

We are delighted to be working with Leeds City Council on developing the next stage of this much needed service, and continue to evaluate the impact of the one-to-one work. The new phase of SWIFt will include the development of six new local projects in areas of greatest need in terms of both frailty and deprivation, together with the support of a city-wide project providing support to older people with more complex health needs.

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