Treasury’s notion of quality of life dismissed by older people’s charities

    The Treasury’s service targets are too narrow to improve overall
    quality of life for vulnerable older people, leading charities have
    warned.

    Linked to billions of pounds of investment, the set of public
    service agreements the Treasury announced last week include targets
    to “improve the quality of life and independence of vulnerable
    older people by supporting them to live in their own homes where
    possible”.

    The targets stipulate that the number supported at home should
    increase by 1 per cent annually in 2007 and 2008, while those
    receiving intensive support at home should increase to 34 per cent
    of those being supported at home or in residence.

    Jim Donovan, spokesperson for older person’s charity WRVS (formerly
    Women’s Royal Voluntary Service), said supporting older people at
    home should be just one of several factors contributing to quality
    of life.

    “The only definition of improved quality of life is that they are
    able to live at home. Older people can have a dire existence at
    home if they are immobile, remote from family or have no human
    contact. Quality of life is a totally laudable objective but if you
    speak to older people about what that means it includes meeting
    people and doing things that add to their experience.”

    Donovan said there was a danger that councils would not focus on
    the quality of home support for older people, instead concentrating
    on the number able to live at home to meet the target. “If we’re
    talking about high quality support for community transport schemes,
    shopping schemes and neighbour schemes, then that’s great, but the
    only thing that is measured is this 1 per cent more living at
    home.”

    Mervyn Kohler, head of public affairs with Help the Aged, agreed.
    “Those targets do not refer to the real objectives of
    rehabilitation, enabling people to live successful lives. The PSA
    programme should be a good tool to improve services, but if
    something is not in the target it can be neglected,” he said.

    Also, there is a new PSA for extending child and adolescent mental
    health services to all 16 and 17 year olds.

    Councils that achieve all 12 PSA targets can earn up to an extra
    2.5 per cent of their net budget. 

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