A local Wellbeing Programme will continue its critical work thanks to a £1.3m worth of funding boost.

Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation trust, together with authority partners, have secured £1.3m worth of funding to continue the Wellbeing Program.

The partners included: the Torbay Community Development Trust (TCDT), Nationally Lottery funded Ageing Well Program, and local voluntary sector organisations.

The Wellbeing Programme, initially starting in July 2016, has found that it is enabling some participants to avoid hospital and acute care.

Following its inception in July 2016, over 3000 people in Torbay and South Devon have been referred to the Wellbeing Programme.

The funding will last for a further 4 years.

Combats isolation

NHS and its partners believe that the program has fundamentally helped to combat feelings of isolation and loneliness along with enhancing the feeling of wellbeing.

By combating these negative feelings the Wellbeing Programme has contributed to managed cases of improved health outcomes.

Overall, the NHS and its partners believe that this has helped keep more people out of the hospital waiting room and acute care.

Jobs Secured

The Wellbeing Programme is provided by seven voluntary sector organisations which together employ Wellbeing Co-ordinators.

Wellbeing Co-ordinators are members of the integrated Health and Wellbeing Teams.

Throughout South Devon there are 12 whole time equivalent across the area, with some working part time.

The £1.3m worth of funding ensures their continued employment and training.

Wellbeing Programme Co-Ordinators help combat feelings of loneliness and isolation

Wellbeing programme breaks isolation

Loneliness and feelings of isolation can be broken down, thanks to the work that the Wellbeing Co-Ordinators carry out.

Breaking down this toxic circle of isolation can be as simple as a person having someone to talk.

The co-ordinators go one step even further and can help  people to, join a club or other social gathering.

If you’ve been on your own for a long time heading out for the first time can be a very daunting experience.

A Wellbeing Co-Ordinator can help with breaking down this circle of isolation by encouragement and even accompanying the person.

Dr Andrew Thornton, GP, Partner at Pembroke House Surgery and Locality Clinical Director for Paignton and Brixham said:

In my GP practice in Paignton we have Wellbeing Co-ordinators attending our meetings, working to really embed and integrate them into our team.  By working in this way, my GP colleagues are getting to know the Wellbeing Co-ordinators and see first-hand what a positive impact their interventions are having for many of our patients….Whenever I see an older patient and I think they might benefit from the support of a Wellbeing Co-ordinator, perhaps to help them get out and about in their local community, meet people and make new friends, then – with their consent – I will refer them to a Wellbeing Co-ordinator.

Higher than average

It is no secret that Torbay & South Devon is home to the higher than the national average number of people aged 75 and over.

Unfortunately people who are aged over 50 will also experience more chronic health conditions that those younger.

The Wellbeing programme is therefore targeted at people who are aged 50 and above, living with one or more chronic illness and who may be feeling lonely or sociall isolated.

Liz Davenport, Interim Chief Executive at Torbay & South Devon NHS Foundation Trust said:

The Wellbeing Programme, which began as a ‘test and learn’ exercise, is proving to be of immense benefit to many of our local population.  We knew we wanted to have wellbeing and prevention at the heart of our care provision, but we also know we have a lot to learn as to how we can make some inroads into actually providing this – the NHS is proficient at providing medical care when it is needed, but focusing on prevention is a relatively new area for us.  This is where our strengthened integration with our local authority, GP and voluntary sector partners has really come into its own

It is very heartening to see the evidence that suggests that the Wellbeing Co-ordinators are making a positive difference to people’s livesand helping to reduce acute episodes of care. We are now stepping up our research so that we can better evaluate the impacts of the Wellbeing Programme on hospital and acute care, but these first results are very encouraging indeed.

It is our intention to continue the Wellbeing Programme with our partners well into the future.  Having funding confirmed up to 2021 will enable us to continue to develop and improve, hopefully helping to secure a sustainable future for the Wellbeing Programme.

45% felt more connected

The initial evaluation of the Wellbeing Programme was carried out over a sample of 182 older people across Torbay and South Devon with complex health and care needs.

The average age of these people was 77 years old, the initial evaluation found that:

  • Each person in South Devon experienced a 21% increase in their feelings of mental wellbeing, (12% in Torbay) and an 8% increase (10% in Torbay) in their feelings of physical wellbeing
  • Each person in South Devon experienced 45% (58% in Torbay) in their sense of social participation and connectedness with reduced feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Within Torbay, those people that were working with a Wellbeing Co-ordinator under the Ageing Well Programme found that they visited their local GP 50% less than before.

Councillor Julien Parrott, Torbay Council’s Elected Lead for Adults and Children said:

I am really pleased that funding has been secured for this worthwhile programme. As a council we are responsible for adult social care and we are committed to working with our partners in an integrated way to improve the health and wellbeing of older people. Not only has this programme helped people feel less isolated, it has also reduced the number of visits to hospital and acute care, which can only be a good thing for everyone.

TSDFT and partners have concluded that the vital work that the voluntary sector do is critical to enabling people to stay out of hospital and acute care.

Simon Sherbersky, Ageing Well Torbay, Torbay Community Development Trust went on to say:

The Wellbeing Co-ordination service operating across Torbay and South Devon, delivered by Age UK Torbay and Brixham Does Care in Torbay, is a key part of supporting wellbeing, recognising the needs and aspirations of people over 50 as part of the approach, which has been proven to work and we are pleased to be supporting this over the next three years

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