The site – overthefence.org.uk – has been developed by Scottish charity Outside the Box in response to the new self-directed support (SDS) arrangements, implemented in April this year.
The organisation found that many community groups and individuals were not aware of the choices they had to access support because they were getting older, had a disability, or worsening physical or mental health condition. They also worried about how to find good quality care and often didn’t know where to start.
The site, which launches during Get Online Week 2014, offers practical suggestions, inspiration and the type of encouragement you might hope to get while chatting to a friend or neighbour. It is also based on real life experiences and stories of people who have already sought help.
It also includes advice about how to assess the quality of care offered, links to helpful organisations, highlights good practice and details of available funding. It even explains the social care ‘jargon’ often used by professionals.
Anne Connor, chief executive of Outside the Box, said: “Those of us who work in this area know that good quality support is available, but many others don’t.
“At Outside the Box we work with lots of community groups and realised that many people thought only about health care to help them as they got older. They didn’t know they could also access social care, or thought it was only for those who needed care homes and day centres.
“As one of the projects funded by the Scottish Government to support the implementation of the new self-directed support (SDS) arrangements, implemented in April this year, we have developed a resource for people in these circumstances.
“We hope it demonstrates that with the right support, you can stay independent, be safe and well, and, crucially, remain part of your community.”
Bill* is in his late 70s and has lived alone since his wife died. Bill had a fall at home and hurt his knee. He lay on the floor until the next day, when he managed to attract a neighbour’s attention.
He says: “I wasn’t that worried because I knew the fall was because I was doing something daft (standing on a side table to put something on top of the wardrobe). But everyone else ‘got a bit freaked out’.”
Bill was taken to hospital for treatment for his knee. While there he was told about a care service, but was not given the opportunity to discuss what support he wanted. After a week, Bill called the social worker and said he didn’t like someone coming to the house each day. He thought they would stop the service, but instead someone came out to talk about what support he would like.
The social worker arranged for a personal alarm for Bill and he and his sister agreed that they would talk to each other every evening, with a plan to follow if the other person didn’t answer. With the social worker’s encouragement he started joining more social activities including a bowling club.
He was also given help to get ‘on the books’ of a home care service, so he had someone to call on if he did need help with something round the house or if he got unwell.
Bill says: “Having friends and things to keep you busy is important. I had let this slip as people died or moved away. You have to make an effort to keep this going but it is worth it.
“I thought if you got involved with social work you wouldn’t have any say on what happened to you. But I was wrong. They listened and gave lots of practical and helpful advice.”
*Not his real name