'We're not carers but we care' - Call and Check scheme

Featured article - 27 June 2016
By Natasha Andrews, Research Analyst

Head-shot of the author, Natasha Andrews, Research Analyst

Call and Check is a Jersey based initiative capitalising on the delivery platform of the postal service to support people to live independently in their own homes, On hearing Joe Dickinson talk about ‘Call and Check’ it’s no surprise that he has attracted awards, has been invited to present a TeD talk, and garnered the attention of companies such as IBM. Joe’s idea is simple, cost efficient and, most importantly, entrenched in community and relationships.

Call and Check was created a two-fold response to the decline in postal services and the ageing demographic of Jersey. When Jersey Post asked its employees to submit ideas to revitalise and expand services, Joe Dickinson recalled the then recent Jersey White Paper for Health and Social Care, which highlighted the issues associated with an ageing demographic and concerns as to how this group could be continued to be supported in their own homes. With around 16,000 people on Jersey over 65 Joe realised that one service still had the ability to visit people’s homes every day – the postal service.

After 6 months researching the concept, and discovering it was unique, Joe and his employers, Jersey Post, decided to work to develop a proof of concept. In order to avoid additional administrative set-up costs the service had to sit within the usual postal service and be delivered by the regular posties at the cost of a postal service. The concept is simple yet effective; residents sign up to the service and receive an initial 15 minute meeting which outlines what they can expect and also determines what kind of service they’d benefit from. Some residents just want a quick knock at door and others want more interaction and conversation, meaning call and checks can range from 2 – 10 mins with an average call of five minutes.

The postie knocks at the door, has a brief chat to ask how the person is, whether they have taken medication, need medication or even require an additional services such as a lift to the shops or someone to drop in for a cup of tea. If additional support is required, this information is passed on to appropriate partner organisations to action, such as their doctor or a local voluntary organisation. The postie can also deliver repeat prescription, collect post on the individual’s behalf, assist with reminders, such as hospital appointments, or supply information on important Health and Social Services or Parish matters. Postal workers undergo enhanced police checks and receive basic first aid awareness training before taking part in the scheme, so that they are able to recognise and pass on any worries or concerns to the individual's contacts, support network or, in cases of emergency, call emergency services. Importantly, this is all done with the consent of the resident concerned

The posties are supported by a customer service team who ensure that all the right information is collected and provided. Any links that need to be made to partner agencies are done by them, so that posties can focus on the interaction with residents. Everyone at Call and Check is clear that the post workers are not carers, and don’t enter homes unless invited. The concept was delivered initially as a pilot focused in one geographical area, St Brelade, which had a population of 10,000. The area reflected the demographic of Jersey, with potential scheme participants capped at 125. However, word soon spread and now call and check has not only been rolled out to other areas of Jersey but it is now being piloted in Finland, Iceland, Ireland and has the potential to be piloted in America after being selected by the Commonwealth Fund.

The success of the initiative has not happened overnight as Joe has had to navigate the complexities of trying to engage and build relationships with health and social care organisations. Now, nearly 3 years later, ‘Call and Check’ continues to attract attention and London’s first Call and Check will be shortly launched in partnership with Southwark and funded by the Guys and St Thomas’ Trust. Joe is also beginning to create outcomes matrices in order to build the evidence base for the Call and Check concept, and is looking at how to apply the concept to other service user groups.

At only the cost of signed for delivery (circa £5) Call and Check is set to expand and grow. This simple idea has the potential to connect health, social care and the voluntary sector into a daily service that can promote independence, social inclusion and provide a friendly face in the community.

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