Later this spring, the Highland Council and NHS Highland will together unveil a new 'Ageing Well' strategy to support older people and help them remain healthy and active. The finalising of this comes at the same time as the Council and NHS Highland prepare for the April 1 launch of a new, Highland-wide integrated health and social care service for adults.
"We will be Scotland's trailblazers in providing a fully integrated care system", said Councillor Margaret Davidson, chairman of Housing and Social Work Committee of Highland Council. "A great deal of work has been done by so many people and partner groups to get us to this stage and they deserve enormous credit.
"The key target is that integration improves access to services for everyone while removing duplication and gaps. Elderly people should be assured that the new system should enhance, not diminish, the services available to them.
"At the same time but separately, work is well underway to develop a new 'Ageing Well' strategy and our intention is to consult with a wide range of stakeholders to help us complete this important work."
Councillor Bet McAllister, the Council's Champion for Older People and Vulnerable People, and Chair of Inverness Community Care Forum, said: "It is crucially important that the new set-up makes sense to both the public and those who use the service. There is greater emphasis on prevention and early intervention, which I support. It's a surprising fact that in the UK there are more people over 65 than there are under 16, which is why integrated services, with their greater efficiencies, are needed.”
"Older people should be able to be all they can be -- and to enjoy the continuity of service which should flow from April 1. Front-line services must be of greater quality, not less. When the 'Ageing Well' strategy is consulted on, senior citizens, their family and carers, and related organisations, should make the most of the opportunity to offer feedback so the final document is as representative as possible and the right targets are set for the future."
Janet Spence, The Highland Council Social Work Service's Programme Manager for modernisation and quality assurance, said: "As the number of older people in the Highlands grows, there needs to be a collective responsibility for supporting older people to remain active and play a full part in society.
"When we consulted in advance of the publication of our Joint Community Care Plan, older people told us they want to stay physically and mentally active and to remain in their own homes for as long as possible. They also want easy access to community-based health and social care services when these are required.
"Older people, their families and carers, the wider community, the voluntary sector, local business and agencies such as Highland Council and NHS Highland each have a responsibility for supporting older people to enjoy a good quality of life. The development of the 'Ageing Well' strategy is a key step in that direction."