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Launch of £1 million scheme to support older people in community


Stephen Slaine , community pharmacist and Antrim/Ballymena ICP Chair, presenting on "Empowering People through Better Conversations" at the launch of IMPACT.

A new partnership programme to provide community-based care for frail older people in the Mid and East Antrim area, was officially launched on 1 June.

The IMPACT (Involving Many to Prescribe Alternative Care Together) initiative, which received almost £1 million of funding from Dunhill Medical Trust, will prescribe alternative care to people over the age of 70 in a bid to meet their social, emotional or practical needs by linking them with sources of support in the local community.

The funding, awarded to Mid and East Antrim Agewell Partnership (MEAAP), will support the development of six health and wellbeing hubs, partnering with 6 GP practices, community pharmacists and staff from the health and social care sectors to deliver 1,100 older people with a variety of alternative care prescriptions.

Spearheaded by MEAAP, the initiative has been designed in collaboration with a range of partners, including Integrated Care Partnerships, and the Northern Health and Social Care Trust.

Pat Smyth and Bride Harkin, Northern Local Commissioning Group, with Jean Haveron, MEAAP chair, Sarah Allport and Susan Kay, Dunhill Medical Trust and Deirdre McCloskey, MEAAP Project Officer.

Pat Smyth and Bride Harkin, Northern Local Commissioning Group, with Jean Haveron, MEAAP chair, Sarah Allport and Susan Kay, Dunhill Medical Trust and Deirdre McCloskey, MEAAP Project Officer.

MEAAP’s Project Co-ordinator Deirdre McCloskey, the community sector representative on Antrim / Ballymena Integrated Care Partnership, explains the initiative.
“MEAAP has been working hard over the last four years as part of our core Ageing Well & Reaching Out Programme to empower communities and Age Champion volunteers to deliver a wide range of activities to support older people in our community.”

“We are delighted that Dunhill Medical Trust recognised the need to invest over £300,000 in our local community/voluntary sector groups who will deliver social prescriptions – activities like luncheon clubs, walking groups, health condition support groups, arts/crafts etc. – all of which are examples of care in the community, by the community.”

Dr Ian Kernohan, chair of East Antrim ICP, said IMPACT will be putting social needs on a par with medical needs and show how integrated care can thrive via multi-disciplinary health care practitioner teams.”

“The older person will be supported by the IMPACT project officer who will help provide them with person centred services and support to improve and meet the health outcomes that matter most to them. By using an integrated healthcare model, it will reduce dependency on the unscheduled use of primary and secondary health and social care services.

Representing the Northern Local Commissioning Group, Bride Harkin said: “Research has shown that social needs such as loneliness, transport and health literacy can have a major impact on the health and wellbeing of older people in the community.  This new model, delivered in true partnership with health care practitioners and commissioners, will enable more older people living at home to live healthy and fulfilling lives.”

Sue Kay, Executive Director of the Dunhill Medical Trust, said: ““We’re very excited to see that a concept our Trustees and staff have long supported seems to be the name on everyone’s lips: it’s looking as if “social prescribing” is coming of age.  But we know that because it’s fundamentally about people and communities, one size very definitely doesn’t fit all.  We also know that you wouldn’t prescribe drugs and expect a pharmacist to provide them for free.   MEAAP’s people-centred, flexible approach and realistic and practical model meant that the decision to provide financial support was made very easy for us.  We are very much looking forward to working with MEAAP to spread the word and ultimately, change the lives of older people for the better.”

Over 200 guests attended the launch event in Ballymena, which was opened by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council Mayor, Audrey Wales and MEAAP Chair, Jean Haveron.

Dunhill Medical Trust is a charity which supports innovation in the care of older people and research into the causes and treatments of disease, disability and frailty related to ageing.

The Mid and East Antrim Agewell Partnership (MEAAP) is a local inter-agency based partnership aimed at improving the lives of older people in the Ballymena, Larne and Carrickfergus areas.