Introduction and context

Improving the health and wellbeing of adults and older people in Birmingham

The goals that Birmingham City Council are seeking to achieve for adults and older people are that they should be resilient, living independently whenever possible and exercising choice and control so that they can live good quality lives and enjoy good health and wellbeing.

It is essential to recognise that in order to support people to achieve these goals, the Council has broad responsibility across a range of areas and it is a corporate responsibility to achieve them. For example, the Council has a key role in ensuring there is appropriate housing which offers choice to people with a wide diversity of needs. For people to engage in community activities, there needs to be a wide range of community assets which the Council should ensure are in place including community centres, leisure centres, parks and gardens. People need to feel safe to come out of their homes to enjoy them. These are a few examples of the mainstream services the Council provides or arranges.

Most adults and older people can enjoy access to mainstream services independently or with help and support from their families, friends and social groups. However, for some citizens this is only possible with support from Adult Social Care services and from other public sector agencies such as health services. This report focuses on how Adult Social Care services in Birmingham will work to support adults with disabilities and older people to achieve the desired goals.

The challenges facing the Council to achieve this have never been greater. While it is a great achievement for society that there are more people living longer with more complex needs inevitably this puts pressure on resources. While Birmingham is one of the youngest cities in Europe, the older population is growing rapidly. An estimated 10,000 adults suffer dementia. Further, there are significant numbers of young adults who have disabilities or suffer from mental illness. The resources previously available have been significantly reduced making the use of available resources more important than ever. The public have higher expectations of the public sector, standards are constantly rising and it is increasingly recognised that people want support to enable them to exercise independence, choice and control.

Consequently, the Council has to change and adapt to these new circumstances which means that the type of services arranged and provided and the way they are organised and delivered has to change. The structures and organisation all need to be revisited to ensure they are fit for purpose and it is essential that the staff have the right skills to meet the challenges they face today.

Putting in place a strategy for delivering the outcomes

In order to deliver the desired goals for adults and older people, it is necessary to put in place a strategy that addresses potential barriers and obstacles and puts in place a framework to make the outcomes achievable.

The narrative behind this strategy is that on the whole, people want to lead happy, fulfilled lives in touch with their families, friends and communities. They cherish their independence and prefer to live at home or in the community with support if necessary. The vast bulk of people do not want to be dependent on others but will accept one-off support or ongoing support if it helps them to maintain their independence. For most people, this is achievable and it is only those people with disabilities or who lose their abilities with age that require interventions from adult social care services. And of course, for some people, because of disability, placements in residential and nursing settings are the best way in which these people can lead good quality lives.

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