St. Margaret's teams up with South Petherton Community Partnership

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St. Margaret's teams up with South Petherton Community Partnership

St. Margaret's teams up with South Petherton Community Partnership

The  small Somerset community of South Petherton  is providing inspiration for St. Margaret's as we pioneer new and innovative care models to tackle the challenge of a growing elderly population.

South Petherton, with a population of just over 4,000, 30% of those aged 65 or older, decided it needed its own response to the growing pressures on health and social care services as the number of people needing support grows and funding declines.

They took the challenge into their own hands and, together with the local Medical Centre and other health and wellbeing organisations, created and funded a number of key job roles, including a Village Agent and health coaches who are working with a growing army of micro providers to help people stay well and independent in their own home. This new army of 'boots on the ground' has developed into the South Petherton Community Partnership with strong support from Yeovil Hospital's Symphony vanguard-funded project. Vanguard status means services in the county are managed by a joint venture representing primary, acute, community and social care.

The Partnership has:

  • Helped people feel less isolated and more involved in their community
  • Supported local groups to set up, grow and flourish
  • Identified areas in which there is a need for new local groups and activities
  • Studied the mobility of people in the parish and their access to local services

South Petherton Parish Council and its partners have proved that this vital community network is capable of providing inspiring and innovative 'representative' approaches that have reduced pressure on health and social care services, and saved tax payers' money.

St. Margaret's is now working in partnership with South Petherton to identify how the project could be used as a model for the way its services are delivered in the community in the future. This could include linking the Village Agent to the hospice advice team and central referral centre for specialist support.

South Petherton now has seven micro providers in the community who have formed an informal co-operative that will continue to grow and provide flexible care and support to the community as and when they need them.

Increased reliance on home and community care and greater use of micro providers are two of the key findings identified by St. Margaret's in our 'Fit for Future' review of the delivery of end of life care.  It has also looked at how care provision needs to change to cope with increasing demand from people with increasingly complex problems, such as dementia. The key challenges identified, apart from finance and rising demand, are maintaining quality, fractured services, accessibility and equality and maintaining and growing the workforce, including volunteers.

Ann Lee, Chief Executive, said: "The current model we have for people with a life limiting illness being cared for in hospital or in a hospice is just not sustainable. Co-ordinating complex care needs is the key to moving forward , helping to achieve more choice and providing care closer to home. We need a cultural shift that is underpinned by better use of technology, education and training and a greater reliance on the abilities of communities to deliver support, as is demonstrated by South Petherton.

"It's not just about finding a dog walker. It's about identifying a whole network of support and care that can mobilise itself quickly and effectively, not tied up in red tape and procedure and waiting lists. Models such as South Petherton support the more vulnerable, keeping them in their own community, and reducing some of the pressure on the health services. "

Photo from left to right: Ann Lee; Paull Robathon, South Petherton Parish Council Chair; Heather McMillan, Parish Link Worker and a micro provider who offers personalised support for independent living and Jo Goldie, former district nurse and South Petherton resident.

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