OVER the past nine months a county-wide commission has been looking into “the single largest challenge faced by the people of Essex since the 1960s – how will we care for ourselves and our communities right now and in the future”.
The Who Will Care report by Sir Thomas Hughes-Hallett with Dr Paul Probert was released on Thursday (12 September) and highlighted good work being done in Thurrock.
The report, commissioned by Essex County Council, is particularly complimentary about the South Ockendon Centre, saying they “were excited by the model being explored in Thurrock around the use of existing state-owned premises to create Community Hubs”.
The report says: “The South Ockendon project could be a beacon for the rest of Essex and brings together all services in one building including library, children’s services, voluntary services, a crèche and ‘E-citizen kiosks’.”
And they were also impressed by Thurrock’s housing plans for Derry Avenue, also in South Ockendon, a new block of 25 flats specifically designed for the needs of older people which secured a £1.3 million government grant in July.
The report states: “We were impressed by the excellent plans in Thurrock for the specialised housing units being developed at Derry Avenue designed to be ‘care-ready’ so that new and emerging technologies can be easily installed.”
It was in February 2012 that Thurrock launched its ambitious Building Positive Futures (BPF) plan to transform the lives of older and other vulnerable people in the borough.
Since it was launched the programme has seen a succession of other research findings and national guidance which back up its approach to the issues.
This latest report from Essex provides further support, specifically around how to manage demand more effectively, focusing resources and service intervention before people reach crisis-point, and through targeting issues that impact on poor health and ageing such as unsuitable housing, the general urban environment, loneliness and isolation.
BPF and the report agree that integrated approaches to service delivery cross-council provide the best solutions, improving communities’ ability to become more self-supporting, transforming the relationships between public services and citizens, and supporting individuals and their communities to work together to find local solutions.
Head of adult services, Les Billingham, said: “The health and social care system often transcends local authority boundaries and it is great that our Essex partners could benefit from some of the initiatives developed here in Thurrock.”