Prevention key to improving lives

Somerset must seize every chance to improve the lives of its residents – and being on the front foot is essential.

That’s the message from Somerset’s Director of Public Health, Trudi Grant, in her annual report considered by Somerset County Council’s Cabinet at its meeting today (Wed).

The report cites a wide range of examples where prevention – tackling issues at an early stage – is reaping benefits both in improving people’s wellbeing and making better use of precious public money.

“We are working toward getting on the front foot: getting ahead of the demand and, where possible, preventing needs from developing or escalating in the first place,” says the report.

In health and social care, just four per cent of the population uses 50 per cent of the local spend. Many will have long-term, complex conditions that are difficult to treat. But early intervention could make a significant difference.

“We have to start with the small proportion of service users with the highest need, for the simple reason that they have the greatest potential to experience improved lives and that is where most of the money is spent.”

Somerset home care company, Ruby Care, is highlighted as an example of success, allowing hospital patients to be helped back into their own home to avoid a lengthy hospital stay.

One service user described how her mother, who has dementia, was helped settle back at home after a spell in hospital. “Due to the care provided by Ruby Care we managed to get her settled back in at home and her memory has improved massively.

“The hospital dropped my Mum home and a member of the Ruby Care staff

was waiting to help the minute Mum arrived. They offered 24-hour care for a

couple of days to make sure she was settled in and happy. They bent over

backwards to help at a very difficult time. They came up with some very helpful recommendations to make Mum’s life at home easier.”

Other case studies highlight how seemingly small things can make a big difference:

  • Talking Cafes – offering social contact and practical advice in locations across Somerset
  • Health Coaches – helping people build up confidence in their abilities – physical and emotional
  • MAN v FAT – a countywide football league for men who want to lose weight

Leader of the Council David Fothergill said: “Our aim is to see Somerset become a prevention driven system with more people living improved lives, more people being happy, healthy and independent for a long as possible. As our case studies show, we know prevention has an impact – we now need to harness that more in future.”

Pictured are Ruby Care clients enjoying an activity