New To Social Care TV: A Better Life For Older People With High Support Needs

Two new films highlight factors that can enable older people with high support needs to have a better life. The films, on Social Care TV, promote the findings of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s A Better Life programme

The films and the JRF programme provides key points for anyone involved in providing care and support to older people with high support needs: commissioners, managers, social workers, care workers and educators; and, of course, older people with high support needs and their families and carers.

The films are launched earlby the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) with the support of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF). The JRF, in its Better Life report, identified seven key challenges that need to be met for older people with high support needs, so that they can achieve a better quality of life.

Community support and care

In one film, older people with high support needs who live in the community talk about what matters in their lives; achieving these things can help address some of the seven challenges. For instance, the film shows members of the Healthy Living Club meeting. They catch up once a week at a community resource centre in South London and speak about what is important in their lives and how they like to be treated by people and service providers.

People living in residential settings

The other film visits Harper Fields care home in Warwickshire. The people in the film ask to be “seen as how we see ourselves”. They encourage staff and other people who support them to find out their strengths and weaknesses. They enjoy classical music, swimming, skittles and theatre. They really want dignity and respect.

Key messages from the films, the JRF A Better Life programme and SCIE’s related at a glance briefings, include:

  • See and treat older people with high support needs as individuals and help them to do the things they want to do
  • Build positive relationships the people you work with
  • Look for the strengths and assets each person has and support them to play an active role in the development and provision of services
  • Be open to doing things in new ways.

SCIE’s Chief Executive Tony Hunter says:

Everyone has a role to play in making sure older people with high support needs have better lives but the Joseph Rowntree Foundation work recognises the particular role that people working in all aspects of social care have to play in this. These films help to promote the seven JRF challenges, and are useful for everyone who is concerned with delivering social care that supports older people to lead fulfilling and meaningful lives.

Ilona Haslewood, Policy and Research Manager for An Ageing Society at JRF, says:

In today’s world when the pressures on social care are many and varied, it would not be surprising if the first response by some was that it’s ‘ideal world’ stuff. The point is, though, that it is not: it’s at the very heart of the matter. Helping people have better lives is not only a question of resources (although they do play an important role), but of understanding their perspective and being able to form a supportive relationship.

A recent At a Glance briefing, published by SCIE, summarises each of the seven challenges set out by JRF, along with relevant SCIE resources related to meeting the challenges. The two organisations have teamed up because social care has a key role to play in meeting those challenges.

Notes to editors

These are the key challenges that JRF say need to be addressed if older people, with high support needs, are to achieve a better quality of life:

  • Old age is not about ‘them’: it is about all of us
  • Older people are individuals and they are, as a group, becoming more diverse
  • Relationships matter to us whatever our age; we have a fundamental human need to connect with others meaningfully
  • Older people with high support needs have many assets, strengths and resources that they can also bring to the development and provision of services
  • Whatever our age or support needs, we should all be treated as citizens: equal stakeholders with both rights and responsibilities
  • The individual and collective voices of older people with high support needs should be heard and given power
  • We need both to innovate and improve existing models.