This report was published jointly in December 2014 by National Voices, UCL Partners and Age UK, in partnership with NHS England.

It consists of a series of narratives and experiences to describe how older people wish to see high quality care being co-ordinated to support their needs. It built upon the findings of the 2013 National Voices publications “Think Local Act Personal” and “Narrative for Person-Centred Coordinated Care”.

The report built upon the more generic themes of the previous reports concerning older people, specifically on those who could be considered frail. The information was gathered through using several methods, including a literature search, online surveys, focus groups and one-to-one interviews.

The findings were grouped into 4 main themes, each with associated ‘I Statements’:

  • Community Interactions – “I can maintain social contact as much as I want”:
    Surprisingly, those interviewed who lived with family reported a higher rate of loneliness than those living alone, highlighting that diversity and type of contact is as important as frequency of contact.
  • Independence: Often encapsulated as “being able to do what I want, when I want”.
  • Decision-making: This theme highlighted the desire to both retain the control and choice for making decisions, and get clear guidance and support from family and carer networks if and when they wanted it.
  • Care and support: The critical importance and value of building relationships with carers and those receiving care, not distinguishing between health and social care, were highlighted in this theme.

The report found that although the statements in the earlier reports were relevant to them, the older people interviewed for “I’m Still Me”were less concerned about the specific shape or type of service they received, and more concerned about the outcomes that matter in relation to living their lives. It encouraged people working within health and social care services to reflect on the issues identified in the ‘I Statements’, all of which have implications for supported self-care. For example:

  • Are we helping people to maintain independence?
  • Are we enabling older people to build and maintain relationships with their professionals and practitioners?
  • How to reach out to people in ways which are not solely dominated by ‘health management’ considerations?
  • How to work with family and informal carers / supporters?

The report concludes with “The frailty challenge”, exhorting health and care professionals across all agencies and organisations to bear ‘frailty in mind when identifying, assessing and planning care needs’. Given that many older people do not like the term ‘frail’ or ‘frailty’, and very few wished to describe themselves using these terms, it called for a national dialogue on frailty that posed the following dilemma: ‘How do we ensure that we identify frailty as a trigger so that people are referred appropriately within the health and social care system? And how do we do this in a way  that is acceptable for older people and enables them to work in partnership with their professionals?

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Useful links:

Visit the National Voices website
http://www.nationalvoices.org.uk

Visit the Age UK website for care professionals
http://www.ageuk.org.uk/professional-resources-home/

Visit the UCL Partners Older Peoples Academic Health Science Network Integrated Co-Morbidities Programme
http://www.uclpartners.com/our-work/academic-health-science-network/integrated-co-morbidities