The Forums representatives welcomed Councillor Rostron as Chair of the Older Persons Partnership.
A further update was provided on the 'Help Yourself' project, which was aimed at assisting people living in their own homes to help themselves more and make them aware of the range of services available to support them. An event had been organised to take place at Teesside University on 5 June 2013 and representatives from the Emergency Services, the Police and Crime Commissioner, the Council and other agencies were involved. There would be four speakers at the event as well as workshops and information points. It was anticipated that approximately 150 people would attend.
The Chair suggested that the event could be publicised through the Councils Press Office. A local community radio would also broadcast details of the event. The representative from Libraries offered to provide an information stand at the event.
A Forum representative commented that it was also important to identify where there were gaps in the support available for older people. An issue with regard to packaging used for medication was raised. Packaging was now very similar and it was difficult for older people, perhaps with poor eyesight, to distinguish between different medication. There had also been a number of incidents when incorrect medication had been issued.
1 October 2013 would be the International Day of the Older Person. The Forum was hoping to organise a concert to mark the occasion.
Concern was raised with regard to the handyman service set up several years ago by a consortium of agencies under the ILOP scheme. The service was now being run by the WRVS and there had recently been a price increase.
The WRVS Locality Manager explained that the WRVS had been funding ILOP for three years and the original consortium that had established the scheme no longer existed. Since the handyman service was now solely funded by the WRVS it would now be branded as a WRVS service. It was highlighted that although WRVS was a charitable organisation, the people providing the handyman service were employed to do so. The charges currently made by the handyman service did not provide a sustainable income.
It was proposed that the charges would increase to £15 for the first hour, which would include an assessment to ensure that the service was utilised to the best effect. Any further work would be charged at £10 per hour. If only a minor repair was carried out, for example, changing a tap washer, this would be charged at £6. Members felt that the increase to £15 could potentially exclude older people from being able to afford the handyman service.
It was agreed that other options for funding, or the use of volunteers, should be explored. The Assistant Director, Adult Social Care, undertook to organise a meeting with the WRVS representative to try and resolve the current funding issues.
Attention was drawn to another handyman service operating in Middlesbrough which was Poppycalls. Poppycalls was organised through the British Legion and the service was available for anyone serving, or having served, in the Armed Forces and also any members of their families who received benefits or were pensioners. Leaflets giving details of Poppycalls were made available at the meeting.
The Years Ahead Task Group, in conjunction with Northumbria University, had organised a Conference to take place next month for the nominated Champions for Older People from all Councils in the north east to meet together and discuss what was happening in each area.
The Years Ahead Partnership Board meeting had take place recently at Teesside University. A report compiled by Newcastle University in conjunction with the Years Ahead Task Group on deprivation would be forwarded to Central Government.
Concern was raised at the low attendance of Elected Members at the meeting. The Chair agreed to remind Members of the importance of their attendance at Partnership meetings, whenever possible.