Substantial savings and better health outcomes for older people could be achieved by investment in preventive services, the evaluation of a key Department of Health programme has concluded.
The report on the £60m Partnerships for Older People Projects (Popps) found that care spending on service users fell by £2,166 per person per year after using Popp services.
Older people who had used Popp projects also reported improved outcomes and greater levels of satisfaction than a comparison group.
The programme, funded from 2006-8, has supported 470 projects in 29 areas, benefiting more than 250,000 people. More than 70% of the projects provided low-level services to help older people maintain independence, such as handyman schemes, with the rest offering targeted support to those at risk of hospital admission, including falls avoidance schemes.
The evaluation found that for every £1 spent on Popp services, £1.20 was saved in spending on emergency hospital beds.
The projects have also proved sustainable. Only 3% closed after DH funding ceased, either because they did not deliver the intended outcomes or because local strategic priorities had changed.
They were also “reasonably successful” in fostering partnership working between councils, the NHS and the voluntary sector, though the involvement of older people in running services was variable, the report found.
The evaluation concluded that the roll-out of Popp-style schemes required reform of financial systems across the NHS and local government so that cash released from the decommissioning of some services could be reinvested in more cost-effective projects.