Orkney Islands Council
Working together for a better Orkney
Change Fund helps care staff gear up for re-ablement
06 January 2012

Care staff with a variety of skills from across Orkney have been training for a new way of caring for people in the community.

Principally designed for care-at-home staff, other professionals including nurses, social workers, occupational therapists and residential care staff have all taken part in the “re-ablement” training.

This is aimed at supporting staff to help people regain their confidence and ability in daily living skills in their own homes.

Following the introduction of re-ablement, the home care team will have a dedicated occupational therapist as part of the team, along with access to professionals with a mix of skills to help service users choose their own targets and be supported in working towards them.

Setting goals with people will mean that the level of care they receive may change as progress is made.

It is anticipated that this new approach to care will begin to be introduced later this month.

The training has been funded by Orkney Health and Care through the Scottish Government Change Fund and was led by Gerry Graham, who has 40 years’ experience in social work management.

Mr Graham has also worked with many Councils across Scotland to introduce re-ablement as part of the Scottish Government’s Joint Improvement Team, which provides support to local authorities and Health Boards to deliver better health and social care services.

The evaluation of the training by home carers indicated that they feel valued and are very positive about the approach.

In April, a partnership bid led by Orkney Health and Care (OHAC) and bringing in partners Voluntary Action Orkney (VAO) resulted in the county being allocated £321k from the £70m national Change Fund pot, towards projects to help older people live independent lives in the community and reduce unplanned, emergency or unnecessary hospital admissions.

Mr Graham said: “Re-ablement is working with people at the beginning of their care - setting goals with them around their daily living and working closely with them to achieve those targets. They may be relearning daily living skills such as self care, dressing, preparing meals and bathing, or addressing issues such as continence management.

”Traditional home care – doing things for people – can chip away at their abilities and confidence. With an increasingly aging population, our care services need to help people to get those abilities back.”

Director of Orkney Health and Care, Cathie Cowan, said: “The aim of re-ablement is to improve people’s quality of life. If we have a more able and confident community, we can recycle resources from traditional models of care into where it’s really needed, rather than perpetuating the need for care.

“Our next step is to get these trained teams set up and begin delivering this new way of working. The Change Fund will be used to recruit an additional occupational therapist and extra staff to get the project underway.”

Russ Madge, Chair of Orkney Health and Care, said: “Home carers can make such a difference in people’s lives. They have tremendous skills and have the drive and commitment to do the very best for their community.

“Re-ablement empowers our staff to do what they have always had a burning desire to do – which is help clients achieve their personal goals and support then to live as independently and confidently as they can.”

* Orkney Health and Care is a partnership between Orkney Islands Council and NHS Orkney. Working together, we aim to improve and develop social care, community health and wellbeing. We want to provide the best possible care for people in Orkney, wherever they live and whatever their circumstances.