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INVOLVING OLDER PEOPLE

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Examples of good practice on how older people are involved in the development of public services across Scotland ar...
Examples of good practice on how older people are involved in the development of public services across Scotland are highlighted in new research published today.

The research coincides with a conference being organised by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, in partnership with the Scottish Executive, Help the Aged and Age Concern Scotland.

Key findings of the report included:

- Within Scotland's local authorities, there are mechanisms in place for older people to influence aspects of public services in a range of different ways;

- In practice, many of the examples of involvement specifically aimed at older people were undertaken in the context of community care. As a result, the older people who were being involved were often restricted to those using care services and aged 65 and over;

- 'Good involvement' was characterised as being proactive, a partnership, of relevance to older people's lives and with clearly defined outcomes and expectations;

Deputy health minister Tom McCabe said:

'It is important to make the most of what older people have to offer the community and ensure that they are actively involved in service planning across Scotland. This research gives an insight into how this is working in local communities.

'Some of the research is very positive and examples of good practice and joint working have been found. I hope that authorities across the country can learn from each other and share these examples to increase the involvement of older people in the community planning process.

'However there are still some negative attitudes towards the role of older people still exist and older people themselves may have low expectations of the effectiveness of their involvement. It is important to remember that services for the elderly aren't just about community care.

Community planning is about agencies working together and making sure

that the people who use their services are involved in the process of planning the m. It aims to ensure the delivery of improved public services which are built around the needs of the people who use them.

The research was commissioned by the Scottish Executive to:

- Look at how older people are involved in the planning, delivery, monitoring and evaluation of public services throughout Scotland

- Look for examples of good practice

- Identify barriers to involvement

- Draw some lessons for the future involvement of older people in the Community Planning process

The report found that:

- Within Scotland's local authorities, there are mechanisms in place for older people to influence aspects of public services in a range of different ways;

- In practice, many of the examples of involvement specifically aimed at older people were undertaken in the context of community care. As a result, the older people who were being involved were often restricted to those using care services and aged 65 and over;

- At the same time, some professionals felt that older people were over represented in 'generic' non age specific activities. However it was not always clear who is involved, on what basis and whether there were some groups of older people whose views are not being represented;

- 'Good involvement' was characterised as being proactive, a partnership, of relevance to older people's lives and with clearly defined outcomes and expectations;

- There was limited evidence of a strategic approach to the involvement of older people in shaping public services within and across agencies;

- Barriers to involvement included negative attitudes towards older people, older people's low expectations of the effectiveness of involvement and a variety of organisational barriers;

- In many areas a mixture of 'generic' and 'older person specific', ongoing and one-off mechanisms were used to involve older people;

- There did not appear to be any systematic evaluation of outcomes or the process of involvement.

* A summary of the report is available here.

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