Older people in Wales are missing out on the essential services they need to help them recover after a stay in hospital, according to a report by the older people's charity WRVS.
The report examines so-called 're-ablement services' available across Wales, which includes the services that help people with poor health live as independently as possible in their own homes.
According to WRVS there is confusion around what constitutes 're-ablement services', and the report finds that there are inconsistencies in the services provided by different health boards across Wales.
One of the key findings in the report was that there is a tendency to concentrate on services that focus on improving physical wellbeing. The charity believes there needs to be a re-focus on services that help improve emotional and social wellbeing.
– Dr Ed Bridges, WRVS Public Affairs Manager for Wales
Older people are at their most vulnerable after a stay in hospital and need services that focus on not just their physical wellbeing, but their social and emotional wellbeing as well. The Welsh Government is right to identify re-ablement as a vital part of social care in Wales but they now need to clear up any confusion about what services should be offered by public bodies.
We'd like to see more services such as befriending, occupational therapy support and home adaptations, which mean older people can stay happy, healthy and independent, and out of hospital for longer.
The report calls on the Welsh Government to create a reablement framework for Wales to provide more clarity on what is meant by the term 're-ablement', and to specify what services public bodies and health boards should provide.
It also makes the following key recommendations:
- Setting up a mechanism to measure well-being which looks at not only medical health, but also emotional and social well-being
- Creating a central source of funding for reablement services, whilst still allowing services to be delivered in a flexible way which respond to local need
- Involving the voluntary sector to ensure a multi-sector approach to providing social support services
The Welsh Government has responded to the report in a statement that says they recognise the value of re-ablement services.
– Welsh Government spokesperson
The Welsh Government recognises the value of re-ablement services in supporting independent living, and in ensuring the best possible outcomes for individuals. Our Social Services White Paper makes a commitment to introduce a requirement for re-ablement services to be provided across Wales and will ensure arrangements are in place for these to be planned and commissioned on a regional basis.