Imagine this is a low rent version of the television quiz show QI.
In 5 seconds tell me ‘which is the odd one out?’ (there’s a picture to help you)
- Open Data.
- Age UK Cheshire.
- Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service.
- A Dementia Advisor.
The answer is… None.
None of these four things is the odd one out (its a trick question).
What connects them is the fact that they have all combined beautifully to provide an excellent example of what Shirley Ayres calls connected care.
The ‘surprising’ Age UK Cheshire. I learnt about what was happening in Cheshire at the Connected Care Camp (#psicare) organised by Shirley Ayres, last weekend in London. Very briefly this is what is happening:
- The NHS in the Cheshire area share certain patient information with some carefully chosen partners.
- One of these is Age UK Cheshire, a charity committed to making later life a fulfilling and enjoyable experience for all older people in Cheshire.
- Age UK Cheshire take the NHS data and combine it with other open data sources. This allows them to identify the older people in Cheshire who might benefit from the valuable services they offer.
- They then direct their scarce resources towards the people where they can do most good, with things like; falls prevention, health and wellbeing support and dementia advice.
- Evidence from other intervention activities similar to this shows that it is a highly effective way of helping people remain active and independent in their own homes, rather than languishing in hospital wards. Prevention is much better than treating symptoms.
Bring on the Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service. This is where it gets even better.
Way back in 2008 I heard someone from Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service talk about the work they were doing with the NHS and Local Government to share data and work together to support local communities. He mentioned things like ‘Flu and Fire’ events where the NHS were using local fire stations to hold flu immunisation clinics.
Another of their initiatives was around home fire prevention visits where the Fire Personnel were providing health and welling advice to older people in addition to the ‘where to put the smoke alarm’ advice.
It turned out that older people (probably a lot more if you ask me) were far more willing to let someone from the Fire Service into their house. They also appeared to be far more willing to listen to what Fire Officers had to say, than someone from the local ‘care’ sector. Fire Officers (in my experience) are hugely respected, trusted and in many cases cherished by people and local communities. Why not use this privileged position to help older people in those same communities?
Have a read about the work of SPRINGBOARD (link here) which details the interesting work Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service have been doing with Age UK Cheshire. Springboard must also win a prize for one of the most elaborate acronyms I’ve ever seen: Starting a Proactive Response, Introducing New Gains, Benefitting Olderpeople And Reducing Dependency. Genius!
What about the Dementia Advisor? If you what a bit more evidence of incredible joint working, have a look at this job advert. It is for a Dementia Advisor employed jointly between the Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service and Age UK Cheshire.
There’s definitely no ‘odd one out’ amongst this partnership. However, if you had asked me to think of how organisations might work together around dementia I would have struggled to have come up with this combination. Imaginative solutions very often come from the people who are close to the situation and deeply understand the context.
Back to the Future. Things have come a very long way from some of the attempts to improve data sharing I was aware of back in 2008. Open data wasn’t a phrase you heard much of in public services back then, and there’s still a long way to go.
There’s plenty more happening in Cheshire that I’d like to learn about, hopefully there will be more to share about this over the next few months. This is just an early post to help maintain the momentum following the Connected Care Camp. It is well worth looking at Shirley Ayres blog and #psicare on Twitter to see what others have been writing.
Thank you to Ken Clemens the CEO of the ‘surprising’ Age UK Cheshire for talking to me about this.
So, what’s the PONT?
- Prevention is a much better way of delivering public services that treating the symptoms.
- Some public services are highly trusted and cherished by the community. Why not build upon this trust to provide even more help?
- Sharing data can have incredible unforeseen consequences. Imagine what fully Open Data could do?
Picture Source: Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service and Age UK Cheshire websites
Fire Personnel. Fireman Sam of course. http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/arts/sites/children/images/fireman-sam_01_446.jpg