Age UK’s Integrated Care Programme brings together voluntary, health and social care services to provide personalised support to older people. The scheme aims to put older people at the centre of decisions about their needs, and offers a combination of non-medical day to day assistance alongside care coordination. We have been commissioned by Age UK to provide an independent view on whether the scheme can reduce avoidable hospital care.

There are frequent calls for improved coordination of care across different care sectors, especially with respect to the care of older people with long term conditions who often experience repeated admissions to hospital.

As the UK’s largest charity working for the benefit of older people, Age UK have responded with the development of their Integrated Care Programme. This scheme aims to bring together voluntary, health and social care services to improve the care that older people receive, with Age UK staff and volunteers working as an integral part of local care teams.

The process starts with a ‘guided conversation’ - Age UK staff seek to identify key desires that an individual has for their care and daily life. Care plans involving the necessary care sectors are then put in place, and volunteers are assigned to help with day to day support.

One of the aims of the Integrated Care Programme is to deliver cost savings to local care economies in part by reducing unnecessary admissions to hospital. The Nuffield Trust have been commissioned to use data linkage techniques to give an independent assessment of whether the scheme does appear to impact on the use of hospital services. Our study will begin with an analysis of the Integrated Care Programme in Cornwall, but is likely to expand to include a number of other areas.

Programmes that use social action – like Age UK’s scheme - are regarded as having the potential to help people stay well and independent for longer and to improve the overall experience of care. We are undertaking evaluation of several similar projects - for example British Red Cross’ Support at Home service and our ongoing analysis of seven Cabinet Office funded volunteer programmes which aim to reduce pressure on hospitals.

Our findings from the evaluation of Age UK’s Integrated Care Programme will be available in the second half of 2016.

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