Budget challenge puts the focus on health and social care services
As part of Fife Council’s Big Change Challenge, launched earlier this month, the focus on the extreme pressures facing health and social care services has sharpened.
Like most health boards and social care providers in Scotland, Fife is struggling to meet an ever-increasing demand for services with diminishing funding.
Against this backdrop, Fife is preparing to join up its health and social work services in order to meet the requirements of a new Scottish Government Act, which comes into effect from April 2015.
Sandy Riddell, director of health and social care integration, who has over 30 years’ experience working in health and social care services, stressed it was time to think differently about health and social care.
He said: “Our aim will remain the same – to help people in Fife have a positive experience of health and social care when they need it, live safe, healthy and independent lives and have aspirations met.
“Over the years Fife has actively sought out new and innovative ways of working for example Hospital at Home, the new discharge hub at Victoria Hospital and working with the wider care sector to deliver quality care. But this has been dependent on pockets of cash and the innovation of staff, and has led to piecemeal changes.
“With a tsunami of financial and social pressures, the crisis in social care services is the biggest we have faced as a community, let alone as a Council or health service. We cannot deal with this on our own.
“We face increasing demand in hospital beds and home care services, which are struggling to cope and the complex needs which come with people living longer, and for those reasons we are leading a sea-change in the way services are delivered and in the culture of NHS Fife and Fife Council.”
He said there was a shift to more care in the community, and making better use of the £2m a week spent on the 300 independent and voluntary care providers, with more innovative thinking about who provides services – while remaining committed to providing the highest quality of care possible.
Councillor Gavin Yates, spokesman for community health and wellbeing, said there would be a pot of around £500m to deliver the joint health and social care services – but the stark reality was that this was not enough.
He added: “This must be used to maximum effect, making sure every £1 spent is done so efficiently and effectively.”
Care and support ensures Jim remains independent
Having lived independently for over nine decades, Jim (96), from Burntisland, was finding it difficult to cope after a spell in hospital to replace both his knees.
Fiercely independent, Jim was struggling to cope with everyday tasks, but following help from Fife Elderly Forum, NHS Fife, social care, independent services and the local community Jim is no longer in fear of being housebound.
Jim said: “I got my bed heightened so I can get up in the morning, and a chair to help with bathing, a hand rail to help me get up and down the stairs, help with my shopping where they take me out so I can choose things myself.
“The best thing was help in getting my scooter.
“I was a church elder for over 65 years and it is great that I can get to the church service as well as out and about for fresh air and see my friends. Their help has been marvellous.”
Rev. Alan Sharp, minister for Burntisland Parish Church, added: “The care and health services when they work together can be an absolute lifesaver for folk when they find they are not so active or able to cope with shopping and more practical things.
“Jim’s fear was getting shut in but with help he gets on great.
“He loves his mobility scooter and I see him going up and down the High Street with everyone saying hello and stopping to chat. He’s a local celebrity.”
Fiona Clark is a local area co-ordinator with Fife Elderly Forum, which is supported by funding through health and social care.
She said: “The biggest thing for Jim was to stay independent. With small changes and by working in close partnership with health, independent providers and the community, Jim’s got the sparkle back in his eyes and a new lease of life.”
Challenges for Council and NHS
The 75 plus population in Fife is due to increase by 64.3 per cent by 2024. This much older population has greater care needs with greater costs.
The number of people living with dementia in Fife is set to increase dramatically over the next 20 years, from 5700 currently to an estimated 11,000 by 2030.
At the moment there are around 70,000 with a physical disability and 8800 people with a learning disability.
The Scottish Government’s new Act regarding health and social care integration requires the NHS and Councils to work together and comes into effect from April 2015.
Visit www.fifedirect.org.uk/integration or pick up ‘A Guide to Health and Social Care Integration in Fife’ information booklet available across Fife, including local Council offices, Hospitals, GP surgeries and libraries.