In tandem with the modernisation of acute hospital services there is a need to expand the range of care services that can be delivered in the community

Care in the community

This is in line with the strategic vision described in ‘A Healthier Future’ and the objectives set out in the Department’s Public Service Agreement.

The key aim is to support an increasing number of people to live independent lives, preferably in their own homes.

To do this, the HSC needs to develop effective alternatives to hospital care, which are designed to reduce inappropriate admissions and unnecessary lengths of stay.

There also needs to be a strong focus on rehabilitation in tandem with assessment of long term care needs to avoid unnecessary reliance on residential and nursing home care.

To deliver on this vision, the HSC needs to:

  • secure an appropriate balance between hospital and community based services within local health economies
  • continue the expansion and evaluation of intermediate care as a way of working that is designed to prevent unnecessary hospital admission, promote faster recovery from illness, support timely discharge, maximise independent living and improve the quality of assessment of long-term health and social care needs
  • in co-operation with the independent sector, expand the use of supported living, domiciliary care, day care and assistive technologies as alternatives to residential accommodation, focusing on rehabilitation and independent living
  • develop a range of housing and care options for different levels of support, offering a continuum of care as people’s needs change
  • contribute to the development of a region-wide single assessment process, focused upon the person and designed to streamline and improve decision making about long-term health and social care needs and simplify access to services
  • expand the range of flexible and responsive respite and support services for carers
  • increase the take up of Direct Payments
  • engage actively with users and the voluntary and community sector in the design and delivery of services

Contact Elderly and Community Care Unit

People first literature

About carers

Carers are people who, without payment, provide help and support to a family member or a friend who may not be able to manage without this help because of frailty, illness or disability. Carers can be adults caring for other adults, parents caring for ill or disabled children or young people who care for another family member.

One of the Department’s key objectives is to support people to live independent lives safely in the community and carers enable many thousands of vulnerable people to do this.

It is therefore vital that carers are supported in their caring role so they can continue to care for as long as they wish and are able to do so.#

In recognition of this, the Department published a strategy for carers in January 2006. “Caring for Carers” was the product of an extensive period of consultation with carers and their representative organisations.

The strategy deals with a range of issues including health and personal social services, employment, training, education, information and support services. It is an ongoing piece of work designed to recognise, value and support the role of carers.

As well as practical guidance for the Health and Social Care staff the Department has produced an A - Z guide for carers in Northern Ireland.

This provides advice on who and where to contact for information, support and services relevant to carers.

The Legislation places a responsibility on Health and Social Care Trusts to inform carers of their right to an assessment of their needs and gives Trusts the power to supply services directly to carers to help them in their caring role.

Each Trust in Northern Ireland has a nominated carers’ coordinator.

Direct Payments

Direct Payments are cash payments, made in lieu of social service provisions, to individuals who have been assessed as needing services. Direct Payments increase choice and promote independence.  

They provide for a more flexible response than may otherwise be possible for individuals and their carers.

They help people to decide when and how services are provided and who provides them, who comes into their home, and who becomes involved in very personal aspects of their lives.

Individuals are able to make their own decisions about how their care is delivered and how this support is shaped.

This often takes the form of help around the house, getting out and about - going shopping or to new social settings.

Direct Payments can be paid to: disabled people aged 16 or over; carers; people with parental responsibility for a disabled child; and 16 and 17 year old disabled children.

The Department has produced practical guidance for Health and Social Care Trusts and guides for potential recipients.

Intermediate Care

Intermediate care is a range of integrated services to prevent unnecessary hospital admission, promote faster recovery from illness, support timely discharge and maximise independent living.

Northern Ireland Single Assessment Tool

Evidence suggests that many older people experience a wide range of assessment approaches by a variety of different health and social care professionals.

These multiple and often disconnected assessments, not all of which are validated, fail to capture a complete picture of the older person and their care needs.

Older people, their carers and those who advocate on their behalf have for a long-time called for a less bureaucratic, better co-ordinated and managed approach to the assessment of care needs; service delivery and review.

With this in mind the Department commissioned the development of a Single Assessment Tool which will be used to gather all the information necessary to plan home care services for people with complex needs so as to enable them to continue living at home, with appropriate home care support, or to make a decision regarding the need for nursing or residential home care.
 

Home Help Service

Home Helps provide domestic and social care services to people in their own homes.

The Home Help Service makes a major contribution to the overall development of community care by enabling people to remain in their own homes for as long as possible, and thus avoid or delay the need for admission to hospital or residential accommodation.

Residential Accommodation

Residential care homes play an important part in meeting people’s care needs.

Some people may need more support than can be provided in their own home depending on physical and emotional needs and their personal and social circumstances.

Guidance on Discharge Protocol

This circular sets out the process for managing patient choice on discharge from hospital.

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