Local FirstStop advice services offer a flexible and personal service which contribute to prevention – not just crisis intervention – save money and deliver value. Moreover, they enable older people to continue to live safely and independently at home and enhance their wellbeing, a core principle of the Care Act 2014.
The Care Act 2014 and the associated Guidance places a duty on local authorities to ensure that integrated information and advice services spanning social care, housing and related finance are available to all. In addition there is growing pressure on the NHS and Social Care to move towards prevention and away from crisis interventions, delivering integrated services which are better able to respond to needs, particularly the health and social care needs of older people. FirstStop Advice, providing free, independent, impartial and fully integrated information and advice on housing, care and related finance, is a crucial part of this developing agenda. Local FirstStop information and advice services are provided in partnership with Age UK, Home Improvement Agencies and Local Authorities.
An independent evaluation of these services has been newly published to provide evidence of their value. The evaluation made use of outcomes data from local FirstStop services and a literature review, including identifying unit cost and social value information. It also included 44 detailed semi-structured interviews with older people who had been provided with information and advice by four local FirstStop partners, together with interviews with key local stakeholders.
The evaluation report demonstrates that local FirstStop advice services deliver significant savings to the NHS & Social Care, highlights how services contribute to the achievement of NHS, Adult Social Care and Public Health outcomes and targets and demonstrates the value of such services to older people.
The Information and Advice Service report shows that:
- An investment by Department for Communities and Local Government of just under £500,000 in the information, advice and service brokerage delivered by FirstStop local partners has delivered approximately £11.5 million annual savings arising from the avoidance of falls, unplanned hospital admissions and GP appointments.
- Wellbeing was improved for 59% of older people and health outcomes for 43%. Local FirstStop partners offer a flexible, personalised service that supports older people to take better decisions and helps them with the actions they need to take so that they can continue to live safely, independently and well at home.
- Local FirstStop services identify and secure aids, adaptations, assistive technology and improved heating, and where appropriate identify alternative housing solutions. This has been vital in supporting successful hospital discharges and reablement for people with complex health conditions.