The Living Well service aims to help those over the age of 60, and who have long term health conditions, to address health and social care needs so they can maintain a happier and healthier life.

Gillian and her husband Peter, from Pangbourne, are two people who have benefited from the service. Peter has Parkinson’s disease and 79 year old Gillian, his wife and main carer, has health problems of her own. The service supported them to stay independent and safe in their own home. Gillian comments: “I’m thankful to Sarah, my personal independence coordinator, who’s been brilliant throughout and has provided lots of help and support for us. One of the things that Sarah did was to help us find a new care provider for my husband as we weren’t happy with the care we were receiving – often carers arrived late or wouldn’t stay their allotted time! I was in a bad way myself and didn’t feel able to handle them, but thankfully Sarah helped us get back on track again.”

WEB Gillian and Peter WinkworthSarah, one of two personal independence coordinators, takes up the story: “For me, it’s very rewarding identifying and putting in place the small changes that make somebody’s life better. To some of my patients, it’s a big deal and can have a huge impact on their quality of life.” Funded by NHS North and West Reading Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Living Well is a pilot service delivered by Age UK Berkshire and the two personal independence coordinators work with ten GP surgeries in the CCG area. Their role is to assist older and more-vulnerable people to live well, helping them to lead and maintain healthy lives.

Sarah also helped Gillian get attendance allowance, which has made life much easier for the couple, she comments: “I started working with Peter and Gillian in August 2015 after they were referred by their GP. When I first met them, they were having all sorts of difficulty with their existing care provider and that, in turn, was frustrating them. By taking time to listen and helping them make some phone calls it’s good that they now have a care provider that goes the extra mile for them.”

Gillian had also been awarded a carer’s grant from West Berks Neurological Alliance to spend on herself. She thought her grant had expired, as she’d been ill and had not done anything about reapplying. Sarah encouraged Gillian to contact the Alliance and she was delighted that they extended the grant for a further six months.

Ninety year old widow Doreen, from Theale, is another person who has benefitted from the service, after being referred by her GP in August 2015. Doreen says: “If I want to know anything, I just phone Sarah who is a godsend! If I have a problem about any aspect of my care I can rely on her to help me. She’s helped me claim attendance allowance and is helping with the paperwork so I can move a bit closer to my family.”

WEB Sarah Finch DoreenDoreen has COPD, macular degeneration and is registered partially sighted. She has also had both hips replaced, her most recent operation was in February 2016 and she is making a good recovery. She lives in sheltered accommodation and is generally well-connected to social activities in her area.

Sarah also told Doreen about weekly music sessions being run at the housing scheme where she lives, which Doreen now enjoys attending. Sarah explains: “During my visits, I was able to help Doreen with small tasks such as changing batteries in her remote control, adjusting the screen size on her television, turning the alarm off on her talking watch - day-to-day tasks that are very challenging for the visually impaired.”

Sarah ends by saying: “The Living Well service is about holistic care and improving the quality of life for our older residents – this can take a number of forms including providing support with financial matters, putting them in touch with different social clubs and encouraging them to get more exercise. It’s been particularly pleasing to notice the difference the service has made in a short period of time.”

The North & West Reading CCG surgeries are Tilehurst Surgery Partnership, Boathouse Surgery, Balmore Park, Mortimer, Emmer Green, Western Elms, Circuit Lane, Peppard Road, Priory Avenue and Theale Medical Centre.

The service, which is a result of a suggestion from the local Patient Voice Group, aims to help older people in a number of ways:

  • Staying as well as you can
  • Keeping in touch
  • Feeling positive
  • Being treated with dignity
  • Looking after yourself
  • Feeling safe
  • Managing money and personal administration.

If you or someone you know would benefit from the Living Well service and is registered with one of the practices detailed below, you should discuss this with your GP or ask the receptionist for information on being referred. Following referral, a personal independence coordinator will visit the patient in their own home and help to identify activities and services that could benefit them.

The North & West Reading CCG surgeries are Tilehurst Surgery Partnership, Boathouse Surgery, Balmore Park, Mortimer, Emmer Green, Western Elms, Circuit Lane, Peppard Road, Priory Avenue and Theale Medical Centre.

  •  A print-ready copy of this case study is available to download here.
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