In September 2017, the Personal Independence Programme (PIP) team and staff at Sandgate Road Surgery, one of the SUSTAIN sites in the UK, met with visitors from the Hondao Senior Citizen Welfare Foundation, Taiwan. Since its inception, Hondao has been actively championing senior citizen welfare including building respect and care across generations, providing volunteer services, day time care and domestic services, leisure activities and advice. Hondao collaborates with Silver Linings Global, a social consultancy that focuses on the senior care industry. They act as a programme manager by supporting funding efforts and by working with the Hondao Foundation to pilot a programme on healthy ageing in Taiwan.
At AGE UK, headquarters
The visitors from Hondao included two social workers, one nurse and the programme manager. The Hondao team had previously taken part in Age UK-led in addition to integrated care trainings and had been identified as the team most likely to drive integrated care forward in Taiwan.
The PIP includes services delivered by Personalised Independence Co-ordinators (PICs). This service is an integral part of the Over 75 Service, a SUSTAIN site. The PIC works with patients for up to 3 months using goals identified through guided conversations. Over this period, patients are linked to local groups and support services and when necessary, a volunteer is matched to the patient to provide ongoing support. Patients who are over 65 years of age with at least 2 long-term conditions, and who have had 2 unplanned admissions or 2 visits to Accident and Emergency, within the last 18 months are eligible to receive said services.
Visiting the Over 75 Service at Sandgate Road Surgery
Upon arriving, the visitors met with the PIP team to find out more about their best practices the PIC on a home visit to a patient in need of support. The aim of this visit was to help rebuild the patient’s confidence to become more active outside of their own home.
The next day the visitors went to Sandgate Road Surgery where they met with the Senior Practice Matron and lead for the Over 75 Service. This served as an opportunity to talk in-depth about commonalities regarding aging populations and how PIP and the surgery work together. It was highlighted that there is a high level of two-way communication and that the PIC worker is able to quickly respond in order to avert crisis and to respond to health needs that can be met through social intervention.
Finally, the Taiwanese visitors heard from a group of patients about their experience in taking part in PIP. This exchange was extremely positive and led to a new aspect of PIP work. This involved focusing on not only linking individuals to their communities but also linking patients with each other, for example, through singing groups or luncheons.
Taiwan is experiencing new found difficulties in caring for an ageing population due to its rapid increase in life expectancy, shifts in social attitudes towards families providing care and the scarcity of funding opportunities for elderly care provision. Although there are differences between the UK and Taiwan, both countries have realised that they also face similar challenges. A desire to promote independence and reduce social isolation was a recognisable goal, as was the need for effective communication between multiple organisations, (whether state or voluntary) in order to maximise the potential of any service provision. The role of the voluntary sector in filling the gaps in state service provision was also a common theme for discussion.
Despite significant differences in culture, health and social care provision and population demographics, it was evident that each country is facing the same challenges and that exchanging views and sharing how best to support elderly people in our communities is a common goal.
Jan Smart, Team Leader, Personal Independence Programme (PIP), UK
Julia Baldwin, Senior Practice Matron, Sandgate Road Surgery, UK
Deborah Yang, co-founder Silver Linings Global, Taiwan
Julie MacInnes, University of Kent, UK