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Supporting older people in Southwark

Isolated older residents of Southwark are being offered support in their own homes thanks to SEASONS, a new scheme launched this week.

Mrs Lopez
Old Kent Road resident Mrs Lopez, 80, with outreach support worker Nadia Salama


Within the next 20 years a quarter of the UK population will be over 60 and an ageing population has led to an alarming number of barriers, whether related to culture, mobility or isolation, that prevent older people from accessing key services available to them.

SEASONS (Southwark Elders Active Support Outreach and Network Services) is a new scheme designed to address this problem. The project provides a service to residents of Southwark aged 60 and over in order to help them remain in their own homes.

The SEASONS project has been commissioned and funded by the Southwark Council Supporting People team and is being delivered by the Peabody Trust.

The SEASONS project aims to target more isolated residents to make them less vulnerable and help them get out and about and make connections in the community.

Any resident over 60 can apply for this service, whether they are a council or housing association tenant, a home owner or renting privately. Referrals can come to SEASONS from either Southwark Elderly Assessment Service or Social Services, from a local community group of even self-referrals from potential service users and their families and friends.

Those people who are referred to the project will be visited in their own home by a member of a team of specialist support workers at SEASONS. The project has teams of staff in Camberwell and West Dulwich, covering the north and south of the borough respectively.

Staff are able to assist in many areas, from benefits advice to local service links and information to help with accessing services. This service is aimed at supporting people who wish to continue to live independently and avoid the need to move into a care home.

SEASONS is also designed to provide a culturally specific service where required to people from Somali, Bengali, Vietnamese, Chinese and Afro-Caribbean backgrounds.

The team aims to help everyone who is referred to the scheme and where SEASONS is unable to assist, the team will help to refer the person to someone who can.

Since its pilot began six months ago, SEASONS has already received a steady flow of referrals to the service and is currently working with over 100 clients from a variety of backgrounds requiring varying levels of support. 21 clients are in the SE1 part of Southwark.

Supporting People is a national programme to improve the quality of life of vulnerable people through responsive, creative and cost effective housing related support services. The Supporting People Business Unit at Southwark Council is responsible for commissioning, funding and monitoring a number of different housing related support services for a diverse range of client groups.

SEASONS is managed by Peabody Trust, one of London's oldest and largest housing associations with nearly 20,000 homes housing around 55,000 residents. The Trust provides many sheltered housing schemes and services for older people that are designed to promote well-being, combat isolation and are sensitive to the changing lifestyles of today's older people.

"In improving access to services for older people, we must take into account their specific needs,” commented Stephen Howlett, chief executive of Peabody Trust. “By working with Southwark Council on this important project, Peabody Trust hopes to help break down barriers between public services and this section of the community.”

Case study: Mrs B

Ms B from SE1 was referred by another service user to SEASONS. She is a wheelchair user and registered blind and had difficulty reading her mail. At first the SEASONS support worker was assisting with this but then referred her to a voluntary organisation, Blackfriars Settlement, for a befriender to visit her at home. She now sees a befriender each week who reads her mail. Repairs were chased up and her patio door window repaired with intervention from SEASONS.
SEASONS improved the health, safety and security of the flat. She is due to have smoke alarms fitted by the Fire Brigade, following a referral and victim support fitted an intercom-based doorbell and postbag.

Ms. B is grateful for the service and more confident about getting things done on the telephone than she was before.

• If you know of an older resident in Southwark who may benefit from the SEASONS project, you can contact the team on 020 7021 4532 (north of the borough) or 020 7021 4537 (south of the borough) or email seasons@peabody.org.uk

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