Department for Work and Pensions
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Joined up working benefits older people
Local authorities that join up their services for the elderly can improve their own efficiency and bring real benefits to older people. This was one of the conclusions of a series of pilot schemes run in eight local authorities across England and Wales.
The LinkAge Plus pilot programme has brought local authorities together with their partners in health, voluntary and community sectors to find innovative ways to break down traditional barriers and to join up services. Avoiding duplication of work and improving provision has meant that older people are able to access several services through a single access point.
The pilots have developed the capacity of individuals and organisations to promote social inclusion and tackle isolation among older people as well as improving access to services that promote independence and well being.
Minister for Pensions and the Ageing Society Rt Hon Rosie Winterton said: "This scheme shows that a little bit of joined up working can make big difference and provide a better service for older people. By putting older people at the centre of how these services are delivered it shows how the services can be improved."
The pilots have tested different approaches to joining up services and support for older people. They aimed to make it easier to identify needs and simpler to locate and access the services or activities to meet those needs. In most areas additional services and activities have also been provided but the emphasis has been on joining up what's already there.
The evaluation of the pilots found that:
* LinkAge Plus has focused on quality of life outcomes for older people. This has led to people-centred, rather than organisational or service-centred approaches to strategic commissioning and operational procurement;
* The pilots made better use of existing services through improving access to those services and increased the number and range of older people benefiting from them;
* Joined-up or integrated services have resulted in greater efficiency through reduced duplication.
* More effective processes have been developed by local organisations to enable access to, and targeting of referrals for information, advice and services.
* New organisations and preventative services have been created to work with and for older people by partnerships of statutory, third sector and private organisations.
Note to editors
1. This research is published as part of the DWP Research Series Report 571 'LinkAge Plus: Capacity building - enabling and empowering older people as independent and active citizens'
2. The authors are Martin Willis, director of INLOGOV, the Institute of Local Government Studies, within the school of Government and Society at the university of Birmingham and Robert Dalziel a research fellow at INLOGOV. Both have worked with Warwick Business School at University of Warwick for the purposes of this evaluation.
3. This report is an interim assessment of the LinkAge Plus approach and one of a series of reports focusing on key themes. It is intended to be of use to local authorities and their partners who are interested in improving the wellbeing of older people.
4. The report can be found at http://www.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd5/rrs-index.asp
5. Earlier reports referred to include 'LinkAge Plus: Benefits for Older People'
6. http://www.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd5/report_abstracts/rr_abstracts/rra_554.asp and 'LinkAge Plus: Access to Information and Services for Older People - the Joined Up Approach' is available at http://www.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd5/WP53.pdf).
7. The final evaluation reports including an assessment of the cost effectiveness of Link Age Plus will be published in summer 2009.
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