Older Age Care: It’s time for an intervention – Sara McKee

Evermore design small household living for later life, giving older people the chance to ‘live an independent life to the full, surrounded by people who care’.

Recently named a top innovator in active and healthy ageing by the European Commission, Evermore Founder, Sara McKee explains here why older age care is in need of an intervention.

The shemozzle over the Conservative’s social care manifesto paints a picture of a Government struggling to grapple with the challenges of older age care.

Nobody at a senior level in politics knows how to tackle it. I’ve lost count of the number of commissions that have been held into funding older age care and yet we seem no closer to a solution.

It’s time for an intervention.

We’ve grasped the bull by the horns in Greater Manchester and are powering ahead with introducing new ways of living in later life, and aligning social care with our health system so we can provide truly integrated services.

I’ve been beating the drum for positive housing choices for older people for five years. One of the biggest challenges this country has is that there is not enough appealing or appropriate housing.
You may wonder why I’m focused on housing in the context of funding. Well, research has proven that the right housing has a massive impact on a person’s health and wellbeing. If we can get the housing right, we can help older people keep happy and well so they are less likely to need health and social care services.

What’s more, the right housing can tackle the social isolation crisis. Loneliness is a massive public health issue and the biggest predictor of an early death according to geriatricians in Manchester. But if you create a community that provides real companionship as well as supporting older people to retain vital connections, we begin to address some of the reasons for isolation in the first place.

So what kind of housing is needed?

We believe in a greater choice for older people and that’s why we’re excited to be building the first Evermore community in the centre of Wigan. The Evermore small household model provides student living for older people with a safety net. Single older people will live together in households of around 10 with life revolving around a central kitchen and hearth – much like the family home. They’ll have their own apartments and be supported by a team of Mulinellos. They’ll be encouraged to take an active part in the running of the household, from sharing meals together around a large kitchen table to contributing to daily social activities.

As part of the Wigan development, we’ll have two specialist households for people living with dementia. They won’t be defined by their illness and resulting disability, nor will illness be the sole basis of care and interaction. Our Mulinellos will respond to the individual and provide support based on the customer’s abilities, building on their strengths and finding ways to compensate for the losses brought about by their illness. The focus is on integration not isolation – they won’t be incarcerated in secure units.

The strength of the Evermore household model is that it can be adapted to multiple settings. For example, we’re redesigning an intermediate care unit for a Manchester NHS Trust to operate as an Evermore household. This is so people can recuperate in a homelike environment and staff can spend more quality time with individuals. Both clinicians and patients receive a much more positive experience.

What we’re proposing isn’t rocket science but siloed thinking and a low risk threshold has meant the public sector hasn’t been prepared to make these changes in the past. However, the devolution agenda in Greater Manchester has given people the freedom and the budget to introduce new models and ways of working.

We’re excited about the changes taking place and our role in it, and believe Greater Manchester is setting the scene for true health and social care transformation with Evermore households right at the heart of the Local Care Organisation. Now that’s an intervention.
Sara McKee, Evermore Founder and Director of Market Innovation


To learn more about Sara and Evermore’s work, you can find Sara on LinkedIn and learn more about Evermore here.