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Prevention and early intervention

People need to be able to access prevention and early intervention services quickly and at any time in their lives. Services such as assistive technology can be beneficial at different times as can enablement and rehabilitation services. These services can help people to maximise their independence throughout their lives and as people’s needs change, their needs for these services changes as well.

It is important to have a comprehensive ongoing strategy for prevention to ensure that organisations in the public sector and in the third sector are joined up in their approaches and maximise the available resources. Much can be done through making every contact count and there are a wide range of partners who are keen to work in this area such as the fire brigade.

One of the weaknesses of the public sector is that it is poor at anticipating demand. Too often, organisations wait until there is a crisis until services click into gear but by then it is high cost, acute services. That is why there needs to be a strategic approach to prevention which anticipates potential needs and intervenes early before they become a crisis. For example, people often fall several times before they break a hip. Intervening early in low cost solutions and preventive actions can prevent the fall which is then very costly and can lead to poor long-term outcomes.

In order to deliver this element of the strategy, a comprehensive ongoing approach to prevention needs to be developed and implemented. A key element of it will be the link to community assets and the link workers. They will play a key role in ensuring that people with lower level needs aren’t left until they develop acute needs. A multi-organisation group needs to be established or an existing one such as the Health and Wellbeing Board needs to take the lead on prevention to ensure the strategic approach is implemented.

Other preventive services need to be developed and invested in. This will include assistive technology, aides and equipment, support for carers and easy access to enablement programmes.