Community Agent Essex is a new county wide approach to help meet the care needs of an ageing population. The project was initiated by a partnership of voluntary sector organisations in direct response to the ‘Who Will Care?’ Commission’s report. This called on communities to mobilise and agree new approaches to providing care and support in their local area.
Essex County Council was approached last year by four Voluntary Sector organisations: Age UK Essex, British Red Cross, Rural Community Council of Essex and Neighbourhood Watch who wanted to work together to develop an Essex wide approach to support older people to remain independent in their communities for longer using the skills and knowledge of each of the organisations. This model will be fully owned and led by the voluntary sector, with ECC funding the initial stimulation of the model.
This is a targeted response for older people and their informal carers who are likely to need health and social care within the near future. The older people will be identified through referrals from Social Care Direct, GPs and targeted outreach activity in the community. Its aim is to enable people to identify, source and implement solutions to the issues they face, helping them to find support from within their own natural and community networks. It will not replace or duplicate community development approaches and the four organisations will begin contacting partners in localities to develop the approach in the near future now that we have full approval. The approach in each locality will vary and be dependent on the needs of the people in the area and the infrastructure that already exists.
In Mid, the Community Agents will replace the Village Agents. The new scheme has been built on the learning from the Village Agents and will operate across Essex in both urban and rural areas.
The four organisations in the partnership and the agents would welcome local support and engagement. They would be very happy to meet to talk about the approach and how to make it work most effectively in your localities. The partnership can be contacted directly via Brian Goodwin (firstname.lastname@example.org) who is coordinating the initial networking activity in localities. The scheme should complement local initiatives to support people with care needs.