Making H&F the best borough to grow old

We want to become the best borough in which to grow older. And thanks to the work of H&F’s independent Older People’s Commission, we’re getting closer to that goal.

Hammersmith & Fulham Council launched the commission in November to bring together residents, volunteers, charities and health care experts. It is one of H&F Council’s nine resident-led commissions which aim to put the community at the heart of decision-making in the borough.

The commissioners – who worked independently of the council –  have produced an interim report which focuses on combating isolation and loneliness by building a stronger community of older people. The recommendations cover issues such as transport, carers, diversity and belonging.

Bryan Naylor, the chair of the commission, said their work was about enabling older people to make a real difference and that this was just the beginning. “The task before us is still a big one,” Bryan said.

“We want to go out into the community and speak to as many older people as possible. There are 19,000 older people in H&F – and so far we’ve spoken to a couple of hundred. We’ve still got a lot of talking and listening to do. 

Cllr Ben Coleman, H&F Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, said, “We’re really grateful for the Commisson’s work and will be taking forward its recommendations. We’re determined to make things better for older people in the borough.

“Tackling isolation and loneliness at all ages is a priority for the council and the Commission’s ideas will inform the action we take.”

The commission

Bryan has been president of the Older People’s Consultative Forum for a year, having been chair of the organisation for 17 years before that. He is a trustee of H&F Age UK and is a volunteer speaker for the Macular Society and Blind Veterans.

Bryan is joined by eight other commissioners from a wide range of backgrounds. You can read more about them on the commission’s webpage.

They listened to the concerns of many older people and spoke to a wide range of organisations at public events and at smaller, individual meetings. Their borough-wide consultation on isolation and loneliness is still running until the end of this month.

Isolation and loneliness

The commission aims to produce a final report at the end of this year. Its interim report focuses on isolation and loneliness, with recommendations in the nine areas below.

Transport

  • H&F Council should work with businesses to provide charging points for mobility scooters. 
  • TfL should improve and, where necessary, create better transport links.
  • TfL staff need better training taking into account the needs of older customers.
  • Public transport should be better integrated.
  • A volunteer car service should be introduced.
  • Hospital transport services should be improved urgently.

Parking restrictions

  • H&F Council should consider different ways of exempting families and carers from parking restrictions when visiting older residents.

Information

  • Organisations across H&F should continue to help people develop computer skills, while continuing the use of paper-based systems.
  • H&F Council should continue to develop and support digital inclusion among older people, including funding classes.

Poverty and deprivation

  • Organisations should hold activities and classes across H&F that are free or truly affordable.
  • H&F Council should not only prioritise clinical and teaching activities but social ones too.
  • H&F Council should continue to promote and fund services like Healthier Homes which help vulnerable residents manage their expenses and maximise their incomes.
  • H&F Council should review short-term funding for charities and other groups so recipients find it easier to plan for the future.

GP services

  • The Hammersmith & Fulham Clinical Commissioning Group and H&F GP Federation should press local GPs to spend more time with older residents and keep informed of different services that are available across the borough to improve signposting and referrals.
  • When they identify socially isolated and lonely residents, GPs should be encouraged and supported to alert other services if there are safeguarding needs.

Professional carers

  • Companies should monitor the performance of the carers they employ more effectively.
  • H&F Council should closely manage and monitor the performance of companies in order to improve and maintain standards.    
  • H&F Council should do all it can to ensure agencies are paying carers the London Living Wage.

Unpaid carers

  • H&F Council should ensure unpaid carers are supported to maintain or make new social networks, such as providing respite care to give them time to socialise.

Diversity

  • Activities on offer across the borough should reflect H&F’s cultural diversity.
  • H&F Council and community groups should consider bespoke befriending services that address the needs of different groups.
  • Service providers should show awareness of the needs of residents with poor mental health.
  • Service providers should also focus on the particular needs of different BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) people and LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, questioning, + others).

Belonging

  • Activities bringing people of different generations together should be an integral part of any programme intended to reduce loneliness among older residents.

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