Helping isolated older people – Community Agents

Promising models of care – case studies

Community Agents focuses on people aged over 60, especially those who need help to remain independent and to stay at home. Community Agents is a first point of contact for people with low-level social needs. Support includes shopping, cleaning, gardening, form filling and accessing social activities.

Community Agents assesses the needs of clients referred into the service, discusses options and then refers to relevant activities or services. The service is not currently used in Birmingham. This information is based on its operation in Redcar and Cleveland.

Current users and outcomes

Most people who used Community Agents in Redcar and Cleveland were over 60.

During 2013/14:

Those referred to the scheme reported a perception of improved health and wellbeing, including feeling less anxious and isolated, and more confident.

Potential benefits to Birmingham

If the Community Agents service was introduced in Birmingham and it supported 2,700 older people a year (same proportion as Redcar and Cleveland), and the same benefits could be achieved as in Redcar and Cleveland.

The cost of the service per person is £192 per year.

Birmingham could achieve a net saving of approximately £900,000 per year to the local authority, with estimated costs of approximately £520,000 per year.

Estimated current financial benefits per annum

Based on Redcar and Cleveland’s data:

Implementation issues

A key enabler to implement this scheme is being able to develop positive relationships with key agencies, and to link users effectively to available services.

Successful implementation will also need to raise wide awareness of the project within the local area; recruiting a proactive community agent; mapping available services in the community.

The scheme in Redcar and Cleveland was jointly funded by the Borough Council and the local Foundation Trust. Implementation in a new areas would need to consider the provision, or not, of joint health and social care funding.