Living longer and living better is the drive behind a new Older People’s Strategy for Oxfordshire.
The strategy sets out how the NHS and county council will work together to deliver a positive future for the county’s older population. It was developed by Oxfordshire County Council and Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group following feedback over a three-month period.
Residents, health and charity organisations, professionals, businesses, the public sector and community groups were engaged in the strategy development so it could be grounded in what people tell us matters most to them. The strategy’s vision and priorities were specifically co-produced with a wide range of people whose work and lives it affects.
Cllr Ian Hudspeth, chair of Oxfordshire’s Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “We have heard clear messages that ‘age is but a number’.
“Through this strategy we therefore aim to create a new image of what it is to become older, to create a new focus on prevention that helps people live well for longer, ensuring that they can remain independent for as long as possible by having access to the right support at the right time.”
The strategy will be used to inform the planning, commissioning and delivery of services across Oxfordshire and will be monitored by the Better Care Fund Joint Management Group reporting to the Health and Wellbeing Board.
Dr Kiren Collison, vice chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board, and the Clinical Lead for the Older’s People’s strategy, added: “We would like to thank all those people who have helped to shape this strategy so far by sharing their time, their knowledge and lived experience with us.
“Now we invite people to have their say on the final draft strategy document, on our vision, the priorities we have identified and the outcomes to deliver these. Together we aim to make Oxfordshire a great place to live and grow older. And as the famous writer, Betty Friedan, once said: ‘Ageing is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength’.”
Loneliness and isolation emerged as two of the biggest concerns. The strategy identifies being part of a vibrant, safe community with the ability to easily access services as one of the most important solutions.
Having access to good information at the right time is essential in alleviating worry and stress but also provides a means of people taking back control and responsibility.
Changing the way we think about and respond to the needs of those who are becoming older is also important. Oxfordshire’s older residents want to be empowered to remain fit and healthy for as long as possible.
Cllr Hudspeth said: “Oxfordshire’s older people do not want to be defined in terms of an arbitrary age. Our approach should be that ‘age doesn’t matter’, ensuring that people and their needs ‘at any age’ are the driving force behind what we do and how we act. Delivery of this strategy will mean health and social care, county, city and district councils and third-sector organisations working closely together to deliver a positive future for the county’s older population”.
To read the strategy and have your say online go to the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group website and search Talking Health or request a paper copy of the strategy by calling 01865 334638. The closing date for comments is February 1, 2019.