Access to impartial, independent information and advice is seen as fundamental to enabling people to make a fully informed decision about their later life housing and care.
As well as running the Silverlinks programme (see separate section), Care & Repair England works with all of the main providers of information and advice for older people (AgeUK, EAC FirstStop, Independent Age and Foundations) to improve access.
EAC FirstStop Local Partnership Programme
Care & Repair England works with the national housing and care information & advice service, EAC FirstStop, run by the charity Elderly Accommodation Council, to improve older people’s access to independent, impartial housing, care and related financial advice.
Care & Repair England manages the local partnership programme which has supported the creation of fifteen new local options advice services since October 2013 thanks to funding from the Dept for Communities & Local Government (DCLG). DCLG has confirmed funding for local options advice services for another year (April 15-March 16).
Through its partnership work with EAC dating back to 2008, Care & Repair England has pioneered peer to peer advice, housing options training and workshops, self training & self help materials (available on the EAC FirstStop website).
Contact: John Galvin, Chief Executive, Elderly Accommodation Counsel firstname.lastname@example.org
Evidence and Advice
Developing integrated, impartial information and advice about housing and related care and finance – A guide for commissioners
Care & Repair England and EAC have recently published a guide about commissioning information and advice services on housing and care options and related financial advice. The guide is based on the experience of EAC FirstStop working with local FirstStop partners. It offers commissioners model clauses which can be used in specifications describing services providing housing and related care and finance advice for people in later life. It includes a number of options to enable commissioners to make use of clauses and/or sections which are relevant to local circumstances [May 2016]
FirstStop Advice: the case for integrated, impartial information and advice for older people
The Care Act 2014 and the associated Guidance places a duty on local authorities to ensure that integrated information and advice services spanning social care, housing and related finance are available to all. In addition there is growing pressure on the NHS and Social Care to move towards prevention and away from crisis interventions, delivering integrated services which are better able to respond to needs, particularly the health and social care needs of older people.
FirstStop Advice, providing free, independent, impartial and fully integrated information and advice on housing, care and related finance, is a crucial part of this developing agenda. A newly published independent evaluation of local FirstStop advice services provides evidence of their value. The evaluation was undertaken by Kevin Cooper of KHC Consulting Ltd, and was carried out during July and August 2015. It demonstrates that local FirstStop advice services deliver significant savings to the NHS & Social Care, highlights how services contribute to the achievement of NHS, Adult Social Care and Public Health Outcomes and Targets and demonstrates the value of such services to older people. The report shows that: –
- An investment by DCLG of just under £500,000 in the information, advice and service brokerage delivered by FirstStop local partners has delivered approximately £11.5 million annual savings arising from the avoidance of falls, unplanned hospital admissions and GP appointments.
- Wellbeing was improved for 59% of older people and health outcomes for 43%. Local FirstStop partners offer a flexible, personalised service that supports older people to take better decisions (a core principle of the Care Act 2014) and helps them with the actions they need to take so that they can continue to live safely, independently and well at home.
- Local FirstStop services identify and secure aids, adaptations, assistive technology and improved heating, and where appropriate identify alternative housing solutions. This has been vital in supporting successful hospital discharges and reablement for people with complex health conditions.
Local FirstStop Advice services offer a flexible and personal service which contribute to prevention – not just crisis intervention – save money and deliver value. Moreover, they enable older people to continue to live safely and independently at home and enhance their wellbeing, a core principle of the Care Act 2014.
Based on these key outcomes we will continue to argue the case for integrated impartial housing and care advice and information services for all older people.
Summary report can be viewed here
Search Engine Failure: Housing and Care Advice in the North West
The Housing Group of Future North West, the regional forum on ageing have kept a watchful eye on the integration of housing, care and financial advice offered to older people and their carers by local authorities in the wake of the introduction of the Care Act 2014. They conducted a survey in September and have shared their recommendations in a report titled, ‘Search Engine Failure: Housing and Care Advice in the North West’.
Information and advice is key to decision making but the Care Act duty on local authorities to provide information and advice is harder to find than we hoped for and in some cases, non-existent. The Housing Group came up with a number of recommendations including:
- Government should offer additional guidance to councils on explaining the Care Act, the use of website links, and the importance of directly linking housing services and providers into Care Act provisions, particularly those relating to prevention.
- Councils should engage with their local older people’s forum or, where they don’t exist, a similar body to review their website and information.
- Information and Advice needs to be more person-centred and capable of responding to questions that do not fit existing service patterns. This would assist greatly in fulfilling the remit of preventing early use of care services.
- The full report is available here
Cambridge Evaluations First Stop Advice
The Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research (CCHPR) at the University of Cambridge has been undertaking an independent evaluation of the FirstStop service since November 2009. All CCHPR reports, including source data, can be found on the Cambridge University website at: