Project dates: 1 May – 31 October 2015

Research team: Prof Marian Brandon, Dr Penny Sorensen, Sue Bailey, Dr Ann Anka, Dr Sara Connolly

Funder: London Borough

Context

The current fiscal climate and the ageing population have sharpened the focus on the capacity of local communities to fill some support needs of disabled working aged and older adults. The Care Act 2014 emphasises prevention and a duty to promote the wellbeing of individuals and their communities. Local authorities are required to put in place community support before a crisis point is reached to prevent or at least delay the need for statutory care services. Whilst many London Boroughs have seen a decline in their older population, this particular Borough has seen an increase by 5%.  It is estimated that by 2025, both health and social care will need to provide care or services for an additional 12,000-14,000 people.

The literature shows that people living in the community need to be at the centre of service design, and are best placed to advise on what works. Low-level practical support, providing that ‘little bit of help’, is generally well-liked, good value for money, and can be an important factor in enabling an older person or younger disabled person to remain independent. Such schemes are often low-cost as they involve volunteers. However, without appropriate support, older people in particular can be left increasingly isolated in their own homes.

The approach this Borough has chosen to embrace the spirit of the new Act is community social work since it encourages choice and control for older adults and people with disabilities of all ages and is in line with current policy initiatives.

Methods

The aim of the review is to provide a follow up of the practice of community social work (CSW) in one team in a London Borough Adult Services. The review follows a previous evaluation of the service and will examine the continuing development and refinement of the work since April 2014 when the service changed substantially. The study will focus in depth on the 20 cases where a community based, preventative service has been delivered. The study will include:

Client interviews with up to 20 individuals who have experienced involvement with the CSW team.

Individual phone interviews with members of the CSW team will explore the work of the team, the CSW role and changes in working practices.

Analysis of Older People’s Quality of Life Questionnaires administered by social workers and analysis of other outcome measures collected by the team in relation to the 20 cases.

Analysis of one month time use diaries to provide outline costs of this new way of working as in the earlier evaluation