• Mon. Jun 17th, 2024

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Public Health director’s rallying call for people to age well

Older people make a huge contribution to communities across North Yorkshire as volunteers, carers and as active citizens according to Dr Lincoln Sargeant, North Yorkshire’s Director of Public Health.

In his fifth annual report which focusses on growing old in North Yorkshire, he states that older people should be recognised for their contribution to society rather than just people who receive care and support services.  He therefore sets out the importance of providing opportunities and resources to enable older people to continue to play an active part in their communities.

The report – called Healthy transitions: growing old in North Yorkshire – includes contributions from North Yorkshire County Council colleagues and partner organisations.

“This year, my report celebrates the fact that people in North Yorkshire are living longer, but also examines what they, and we, need to do to ensure that their quality of life is maintained and that the term ‘an aging population’ is not perceived negatively” said Dr Sargeant.

“I have divided it into the three key stages of aging well: moving from work into retirement; going from healthy retirement to needing more support and care; and preparing for the final stage of life.”

Latest figures show that people aged 65 years and over make up over 23 % of the total population of North Yorkshire, compared to 17 % across England.  By 2025, the 65 and over population will rise to over 28% of the county’s population.  The increase will be greatest in those aged over 70, with an expected increase of 44% in the 75-79 age group.

County Councillor Caroline Dickinson, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Public Health, Prevention and Supported Housing added: “This year’s report discusses the importance of providing the services and infrastructure to ensure that people in North Yorkshire can enjoy a long, healthy and happy old age.  North Yorkshire already does a great deal to support older people to lead full independent lives, but there is always more we can all do.”

“The report also discusses the importance of ensuring that that we all prepare ourselves financially, emotionally and physically for the final stages of our lives. This includes planning ahead while we are still able to lead an independent life, including maintaining existing friendships and making new ones; and ensuring those around know how we wish to approach the end of our life.”

The report makes a series of recommendations which also include the need for:

  • services to reduce barriers to full participation in community life;
  • employers to support workers in the transition to retirement and enable people to maintain formal and informal links with the workplace;
  • services dealing with a person’s wellbeing to take full account of their circumstances to help them cope with reduced physical and mental capacity;
  • staff involved in end of life care to receive appropriate training to help them provide the best possible quality of care in all locations.

The Director of Public Health report is published online in an interactive format, linking to video case studies that examine real-life scenarios.

These case studies highlight the issues that may affect older people as they increasingly need support, such as safeguarding and fraud; loneliness and social isolation; and some common mental and physical health issues.

They also highlight the ground-breaking care and support services the County Council has in place already, or is developing with its partner organisations.

  • The Living Well service helps people on the cusp of care build up their confidence by developing and maintaining their social networks so they can continue to live connected lives at home;
  • Extra Care, the council’s flagship programme, supports people across the county to live in their own homes, with care and support, when needed, seven days a week, 24 hours a day.  Extra Care schemes may also incorporate GP surgeries, community libraries, short break respite services and specialist accommodation for people living with dementia;
  • The Stronger Communities programme has developed a universal prevention offer which provides start-up funding, advice and support for communities across North Yorkshire to help people to support each other.  The programme includes dozens of initiatives involving support for community libraries and community transport, Men in Shed groups, farmer’s breakfasts, Sporting Memories clubs and initiatives to connect older and isolated people with each other.
  • An Income Maximisation Service makes sure that people who have been through a period of serious or significant illness are receiving their maximum entitlement to attendance allowance, carers’ allowance and other disability benefits.  This support is intended to increase their financial wellbeing so they are able to support themselves in their communities for a longer period of time.

The fifth Director of Public Health report builds on Dr Sargeant’s four previous reports that examined the health needs of North Yorkshire (2013); working with communities (2014); growing up healthy in North Yorkshire (2015); and the health and wellbeing of the working age population (2016).

The full 2017 report can be downloaded from http://hub.datanorthyorkshire.org/dataset/director-of-public-health-annual-report-dphar-2017

By Emily

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