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At home with reablement

Kevin Keenan speaks to Barbara Walker about Reablement
94-year-old Barbara Walker from Lisburn speaks to Kevin Keenan, Assistant Director of Older People from the Health and Social Care Board about how the Reablement Service has enabled her to remain living in her own home.

The Reablement Service is now operating across all five Health and Social Care Trusts in Northern Ireland supporting people to live independently in their own home.

In Northern Ireland we have one of the fastest growing populations within the UK. There are currently around 286,000 aged over 65 years which is set to increase by 45% by 2027.

The Reablement Service for Northern Ireland is a focussed, short term assessment and support service, usually lasting six weeks or less which will help you to do things for yourself rather than having to rely on others.

The service in each Trust is made up of a Team including Reablement Occupational Therapists and Reablement Support Workers. It is provided to people over 65 who require a Domiciliary Care Package, or need an increase to an existing Domiciliary Care package and where they have experienced a crisis, such as an illness, or deterioration in health.

In the last nine months nearly 3800 people have received the Reablement Service across the region, of which almost half required no further on going care package.

Speaking at a recent celebration event entitled ‘Home with Reablement: The Road to Independence’, Kevin Keenan, Assistant Director of Older People and Adult Services with the Health and Social Care Board explained:

“With our ageing and growing population it is important that we prepare our services for the future. This will mean making choices about how we want our health and social care services to be delivered, based on the best evidence and making best use of the resources available to us.”

“Longer life expectancy is something to celebrate and many older people enjoy good health. Health and Social Care services need to focus on keeping older people well through prevention of ill health and the promotion of health and well-being. However, with an ageing population the rates of ill health and disability increase dramatically placing significant pressures on our Health and Social Care System. Services like Reablement help to delay or prevent unnecessary dependency of statutory services and, by focussing on rehabilitation, aim to help the individual regain the highest possible level of independence,” he said.

In 2011/12 patients aged 65+ accounted for approximately 55% of hospital bed days. Many arrive at hospital because there is no viable alternative in the community.

Mr Keenan continued: “The Reablement Service helps to reduce hospital attendances and readmissions and to facilitate quicker discharge. It also reduces the number of people who require a service by simply enabling them to lead independent lives by improving their ability to do daily living activities at home through re-learning skills over a short period of time.”

Daily skills such as washing and showering, getting dressed and in and out bed or meal preparation can be lost following onset of poor health or infirmity and sometimes also through gradual social isolation or the loss of a carer. Reablement helps individuals whose independence is at risk, to rebuild their confidence and to develop these daily living skills.

Mr Keenan concluded: “On behalf of the Board, I wish to commend the Teams across the Trusts for the tremendous effort they are making in offering a better quality of life for many individuals in order to support them retain their independence and enabling them to remain at home.”

Attending the event, Stephen Walker, a carer for his 94 year old mother Barbara from Lisburn said:

“As a family we reached a point where we needed professional help to support our mother. The idea of her going into a nursing or residential care home was not something that she desired as she wanted to stay in her own home. We received the support of the Reablement Team which give mother an opportunity to enjoy a quality of life where if she had not had that level of support she would have had to rely or a greater care package. She is still living on her own with a little care package but not as big a package if she had not had the help of the Reablement Team to give her some level of independence and confidence.”

To view real life experiences and for more information on Reablement click here.