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Integrated Homes, Care and Support: A proven model to achieve better lives for older people

Seven years ago, ExtraCare commissioned a team from Aston University, led by Professor Carol Holland, to evaluate whether our charity’s approach gave positive outcomes for healthy ageing. The longitudinal study lasted three years and the findings were published in 2015. The report showed significant continuous improvements in depression, perceived health and memory, and also a cost reduction to the NHS of 38% as a result of reduced hospital stays, and fewer unplanned and routine GP visits.

We have continued the research with Professor Carol Holland, and Lancaster University, on evaluating our unique model and are launching our latest report this week. The study extends the findings of the 2015 report to include results up until 2018. The focus is on the benefits to residents provided by our locations including sustained improvements in markers of health and well-being for residents and subsequent cost savings for the NHS and social care.

The latest findings tell us that residents living within our retirement communities:

  • are more physically active (75% increase in exercise)
  • benefit from a reduced risk of falls (18%)
  • are less anxious (23%)
  • have an increased walking speed (slow walking speeds are linked to falls)
  • were ‘never or hardly ever’ lonely (86.5%)
  • have improved autobiographical (24%) and memory (17%) recall
  • can delay or reverse the onset of frailty

Both studies provide clear results: the ‘ExtraCare’ way really delivers. This is great news for our residents with results showing that some critical factors where we’d expect to see a downward trend, as a result of age, that no such trends are emerging.

We believe these findings are invaluable in informing policy makers and commissioners, and assisting those who make decisions about their own and that of their older relatives and friends housing. But also educating other housing providers that could use ExtraCare as a blueprint for providing innovative housing and well-being to the benefit of more older people across the UK.

Since 2015 we have spent the last few years implementing the key findings and recommendations of our initial report. This includes developing a new resilience tool to monitor frailty levels and identify the need for interventions, where desired by residents. The tool now forms part of our well-being

assessments and we’re using this for all new residents before they move in to better assess their needs and ensure we are providing the right environment for them.

The first report also stated a small number residents still felt isolated, something highlighted again in our latest data on loneliness. With that in mind we are improving and relaunching our ‘buddy’ system – helping resident volunteers to support new residents to ‘settle in’ and ensure they are welcomed and part of our family.

So next time you see our residents enjoying intergenerational activities (we recently appeared on Channel 4’s Old People’s Home for Four Year Olds) or hear them singing in the choir on BBC radio, or cheer them across the finish line of a mud run – remember that these are the activities that create the numbers. We’re passionate about ensuring older people have every opportunity to stay active and happy, and it’s paying off.

ExtraCare resident Marie McCamley remembers the ‘loneliness’ of watching television on her own with no-one to talk to before she moved to Earlsdon Park Village in Coventry. Now her life as transformed: “It’s given me a new lease of life, it’s going to roll back the years. There’s so much to do…I can enjoy myself and I feel my health is going to improve.” Find out more information and read the full report here.