The well-being of older residents is a key priority for The Royal Borough of Kingston (RBK), particularly following the introduction of the Care Act, 2014 which set out a new framework of local authority responsibilities regarding social care.
RBK's Public Health Department had been running several services for people aged 65 and over, ranging from healthy eating and fitness programmes, to a scheme to help people to lower their fuel payments. However, the council were unsure of service users' perceptions of these services, and wanted their input into shaping future strategy and delivery.
RBK commissioned Senior Lecturer in Health and Wellbeing, Gill Mein, and her team to carry out a study to:
Interviews with services leads and focus groups with residents ensured a wide range of views and in-depth discussion. The aim was to hear the voices of those who used the targeted services, those who may not, and also those from minority communities. Participants were recruited via GP surgeries, chemists, community centres, day centres and through local organisations serving older people, as well as groups including Kingston Refugee Action, Kingston Islamic Resource Centre and Kingston Lesbian, Gay, Bi and Transgender People.
The findings of the review of service delivery indicated that users of existing services generally found them very helpful and beneficial. Service users offered some suggestions for improvement of current service delivery, for example: clearer written information about programmes, and options for follow-up once a programme has ended.
Residents also gave ideas for future service development, including those around barriers to currently accessing services including cost, availability, interpretation services and stigma in relation to more sensitive issues such as mental health, drug and alcohol services.
The report directly informed a public health newsletter within Kingston's Staywell magazine (formerly Age Concern), which is delivered to 9,000 older people and aims to address some of the areas.