Most of us don’t plan ahead for later life – we are so busy getting on with day to day living that ‘old age’ seems like another country – and we certainly hope that frailty and dependency will never happen to us.
This is why most decisions about finding care and support or moving home are made at a point of crisis such as the death of a partner or health decline. All too often this can result in rushed decisions based on very limited knowledge and which could prove to be the wrong choice in the longer term.
Starting the conversation about the future at an earlier stage and talking to other people who have already faced a similar situation can greatly help to avoid crisis decision making.This is why Care & Repair England, funded by the Big Lottery, has been working with local agencies to set up something called Silverlinks. Its aims are twofold.
Firstly, to spread the word about later life housing and care options amongst networks of older people. There is a great deal of sharing of information simply through conversations with people who are ‘a bit like us’. Silverlinks offers housing & care decisions workshops and talks for older people, to equip people with the knowledge and information they need to start thinking about their options. Using a cascade model, this information is passed on to friends, relatives and neighbours to reach as many older people as possible.
Secondly, making a momentous decision about where to live in later life can be helped by talking to people who have faced a similar situation and have emerged the other side hopefully in a better place. Silverlinks connects older people who have already faced and dealt with a housing decision – such as whether to downsize or stay put; whether to move to special accommodation for retired people or to adapt the current home.
Iris – photograph courtesy of Yorkshire Post Newspaers
Silverlinks volunteers share the benefit of their own experience, and crucially, allow the older person who is facing a dilemma time to talk through their thoughts and feelings and reach the decision that’s right for them. The value of this is that older people may feel at ease talking to someone of a similar age and experience and knowing that they really do understand and empathise.
The Silverlinks volunteers can also provide basic signposting, for example telling people about EAC FirstStop or local Home Improvement Agency services who can organise repairs and adaptations. Silverlinks is at a fairly early stage with just a few local projects but we can either offer or help to organise talks and workshops in many areas of England. Do contact us for more information.
There are also freely downloadable “teach yourself” materials and resources that echo the content of the workshops, available on our blog site.
For more information about Silverlinks, including stories, resources and training materials, please see
or contact Sarah Vernau, Silverlinks Programme Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org