Now & Next: Planning for later life with Age Scotland

Age Scotland’s chief exec Brian Sloan explains why to truly love later life, you have to be prepared, as we launch our new brand for those aged 50-65.


 

“You get training at every stage in life except for retirement”. This was the opening line by Helen, a volunteer who was running a Planning for Your Future workshop, and around the room you could see the sentiment resonating.

Brian_Sloan

You go to school to train for college or work. Once in work, you never stop training to keep abreast of health and safety, company policy or any of the myriad of ways that help you to do your job. Yet when you retire, you’re given your leaving present and off you go. For most people, this means going from a structured 40 hour week to absolutely nothing; you’ve looked forward to retirement for years, now off you go and do it. Yet retirement isn’t a thing you can just do, and that’s where Age Scotland can help.

In July 2014, the former Scottish Pre-retirement Council and the Tayside Pre-retirement Council joined forces with Age Scotland. Since then, we have been offering Planning for Your Future workshops aimed at the 50-65 age demographic. It might be a bit of a stretch to get your head around but an older people’s charity was after a younger demographic! Up until that point, Age Scotland was seen as a charity for the over 65s, but to truly love later life then you need to start planning well before then. So we gave the format a revamp to make it more interactive, relevant and thought provoking for today’s 21st century 50-65 year old and created Now & Next as the brand identity to speak to this audience.

Now and Next

When I’ve been along to workshops, I hear so many people say they that they had hopes for retirement but were not sure how to achieve them. And whilst these workshops can’t promise to make your dreams come true, they can at least help you plan a course of action to achieving them. Whether it is financial, legal or health goals, if you only start planning the day before you retire you’re setting yourself up for a fall.

Helen is one of the volunteers that helps to facilitate the "Planning for Later Life" workshops.

Helen is one of our volunteers that helps to facilitate the “Planning for Later Life” workshops. Click here to find out more.

What’s more important is that planning for later life is not just about you. Living a balanced, happy and healthy retirement means you can improve the quality of life of those around you. Looking after grandkids, supporting your children or giving back to your community, later life should be the time you do what you want to do, so get on and plan it! If you want to know more about Now & Next visit our website, nowandnext.scot or watch Helen’s story (above). She’s one of the many volunteers who run our workshops, someone who has learned from the mistakes she made by not planning more carefully in advance and wants to help others step positively into their next life stage.


 

If you would like to find out more about Now and Next or the Planning for Later Life courses, just contact Stacey Kitzinger on stacey.kitzinger@agescotland.org.uk or call 0333 32 32 400.

Age Scotland hosts first national conference on wellbeing in later life

Age Scotland’s first national conference took place in Perth yesterday. Later Life: Tae Mak it Worth Bein’, saw more than 300 people from across Scotland come together to discuss and debate the issues around wellbeing in later life. Here, Age Scotland’s Katrina Coutts outlines the day.    

As a nation we’re living longer, but are we living well? That’s what we wanted to discuss at our first national conference yesterday at Perth Concert Hall – and what a day it was.

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The auditorium at Perth Concert Hall

Paul Adams, Chair of Age Scotland, kicked off proceedings, explaining how this year – the fifth since the Charity was formed following the merger of Age Concern Scotland and Help the Aged in Scotland – had been a fitting time to bring together members from right across the country for the first time.

The day was chaired by Pennie Taylor, BBC Scotland’s first health correspondent, who got amongst the audience to discuss questions throughout the day including, ‘what words sum up later life in Scotland’, ‘how can we improve later life’ and ‘how can we ensure the contribution to society of those in later life is recognised and valued’.

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Pennie Taylor gets amongst the audience to gather people’s thoughts on later life in Scotland

Guests, who had travelled from as far afield as Orkney and Arran, were treated to a mix of presentations from speakers who not only informed, but had us laughing, getting involved and even balancing on one foot.

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Bob Laventure, suggested balancing on one foot while brushing your teeth is an easy way to incorporate activity and improve balance.

Physical activity expert Bob Laventure inspired many with his call for a social movement of older people to make exercise a normal part of our lives.

Scotland’s Makar, Liz Lochhead, tackled the day’s subject in her own unique way, including both fantastic poetry and, perhaps less expectedly, extolling the virtues of leopard-print.

Carol Craig, Chief Executive of the Centre for Confidence and Well-Being, shared stories about her experiences with her parents as they aged.

In the afternoon former footballer Jim Leishman MBE took the stage by storm with an uplifting message that we’re each in charge of the positivity in our own lives.

Speaking duties were brought to a close by Professor Ian Deary from the University of Edinburgh who shared some of the many findings that his team has so far made into differences in people’s cognitive and brain ageing. Just so you know, Professor Deary explained their is no ‘magic bullet’ that can ensure you stay mentally able in later life, but instead many factors have relatively small effects. We’ll be sharing more about this with you in our next edition of our Advantage magazine, but tying nicely with Bob Laventure’s earlier presentation, he explained there is strong evidence that physical fitness boosts the brain as well as the body.

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Age Scotland’s Chair Paul Adams (l) and Chief Executive Brian Sloan (r) with guest speakers Liz Lochhead and Brian Sloan.

The overwhelming feedback from the day was that it had showed later life in a positive light, and we hope guests went away energised and full of ideas to spread around their groups across the country.

We’ll be sharing more details from the day’s presentations and discussions over the coming weeks, but for now I’ll leave you with the closing remark of our Chief Executive Brian Sloan. “Let’s fill this half glass that’s always referred to. Let’s make it full.”

Guests discuss the day's questions.

Guests discuss the day’s questions.

Photos by Louis Flood.

Age Scotland Awards honour Scotland’s champions of older people

This year’s Age Scotland Awards were held on UK Older People’s Day at a reception at the Scottish Parliament. The awards celebrate the tireless efforts of groups and individuals across Scotland who work to make a difference in their communities.


Brian Sloan, Age Scotland Chief Executive

Brian Sloan, Age Scotland Chief Executive, described choosing the winners as “a humbling experience.” He added “It is wonderful to see the amazing work going on around the country – both in support of our older population but also, often, being carried out by older people. I think our winners demonstrate the breadth of activity going on in communities across the country, which Age Scotland exists to champion and support.”

This year’s Volunteer of the Year was Andrew MacDowall, 82, who dedicates countless hours each week to driving, gardening and providing other help for older people in Argyll. Although he suffers from profound hearing loss and is waiting for a hip operation, this has not stopped his commitment to groups including Oban in Bloom, the local “Soup Group” and the Frail Walking Group.

Andy MacDowall, 82, wins Volunteer of the Year Award

Andy MacDowall, 82, wins Volunteer of the Year Award

Age Scotland Awards 2014

Andy accepting his reward

This year’s Services for Older People Award winner was the multicultural Milan Day Support Service, Edinburgh, which tackles isolation by providing information and social activities to vulnerable older people in their own languages.

Milan Ltd means ‘rendezvous’ or ‘friendly meeting place’, in the four languages of the community that the organisation caters to.

“Milan” means ‘rendezvous’ or ‘friendly meeting place’, in the four languages of the community that the organisation caters to.

A partnership between the Citadel Arts Group and Midlothian-based Community Links Dementia was recognised for improving the health and wellbeing of people with dementia. The groups’ Living Memory Project, which resulted in a play performed by local primary schoolchildren, helped it win the Patrick Brooks Award for Best Working Partnership.

Citadel Arts Group and Midlothian-based Community Links Dementia

Citadel Arts Group and Midlothian-based Community Links Dementia accepting their award.

Clackmannanshire Older Adults Forum was presented with the Jess Barrow Award for Campaigning and Influencing for its successful effort to preserve bus services to nearby hospitals and bring some healthcare services closer to the community.

Clackmannanshire Older Adults Forum

Clackmannanshire Older Adults Forum with their award.

NHS Lanarkshire, the Older People’s Employer of the Year Award 2014, is leading the way in actively supporting and training older people in the workforce, and helping employees prepare for retirement. Its pre-retirement seminars, run with Age Scotland, help people with financial planning, health and wellbeing issues and finding volunteering opportunities.

NHS Lanarkshire won our newest award - the Older Person's Employer of the Year

NHS Lanarkshire won our newest award – the Older People’s Employer of the Year

Merkinch Community Centre’s Singing for Pleasure group was named the best Member Group. With around 40 members, the singers perform regularly at theatres, churches and nursing homes, and featured on BBC One’s talent show, Last Choir Standing.

Singing for Pleasure

Singing for Pleasure win the Member Group of the Year Award

Singing for Pleasure treated guests to two songs on the night.

Singing for Pleasure treated guests to two songs on the night.

It was a wonderful night showcasing the fantastic services and projects happening all over Scotland that benefit older people.

Thank you to all those who entered, and congratulations to our winners from all at the Age Scotland team!

The awards are sponsored by Specsavers, Solicitors for Older People Scotland, David Urquhart Travel, and McCarthy and Stone.

Time for reshaping care to shape up

In the light of a report, published today, on Government plans to shift older people’s health and social care more from hospitals into communities, Age Scotland Chief Executive Brian Sloan addresses the challenges and likely solutions.

Photographer: Claudia Janke

Our ageing population is a consequence of success. We have a national ambition that people should lead longer, healthier lives, so we should first and foremost celebrate that we are achieving this. Many people still have fulfilling, rewarding and healthy lives into their 70s, 80s and beyond.

It’s also a myth that most older people need expensive care; in fact, the reverse is true: most older people do not. Only 9 per cent of over-65s are in long-term residential care or receive formal care at home; even among over-85s, this figure rises to just over a third (although many more people receive informal support from relatives).

Nonetheless, our changing demographics will have profound consequences. The ways in which our society pays for retirement, and the houses in which older people live, will have to adapt. Similarly, we cannot assume that traditional models of planning and delivering health and social care will continue to work. That’s what the Reshaping Care for Older People programme is supposed to be about. It aims to shift the balance of care, with more support delivered in homes and in communities than in hospitals. If we do this, we will also make it more likely that older people will remain physically active and socially connected, and achieve better health outcomes. We will also save public money, as resources can be diverted from expensive and reactive hospital treatment to more proactive and cost-effective care within communities.

The ambition is easy to state, but complex to achieve. NHS boards, local authorities and health and social care partnerships need to develop and implement change, at the same time as meeting current demands. It is always challenging to make direct links between preventative support and savings, many of which will not be seen until much later. The health service and councils currently work to different aims and standards; greater integration should help here, but there still needs to be a profound shift in culture, and a relentless focus on older people’s rights and better outcomes over the mechanics of getting things done.

Today, the public scrutiny body Audit Scotland has published a report which shows how much more needs to be achieved.

  • Because real change will involve many different people and organisations, there needs to be a firm commitment and strong leadership, both nationally and locally, to drive progress. The NHS and local councils need to develop strategic plans which promote consistency and reduce unnecessary variation.
  • We need to be more open to innovative and collaborative solutions: GPs should be more open to social prescribing or community referrals; care managers and care providers need to think about creative ways to address and manage the social effects of long-term health conditions; there should be an established process to decide whether someone really needs to be admitted to hospital or if community or home-based support can be arranged.
  • The report also notes that, although there are examples of good practice in linking up care and treatment towards more preventative and anticipatory approaches, there is no nationwide monitoring system to track progress or help to determine what is working and could be scaled-up and extended. The Scottish Government has invested £300 million over four years through the Change Fund to help push this, which has made different organisations develop some joint objectives, but investment decisions seem unsystematic and disconnected and projects are often not evidence-based. A central focus on the outcomes achieved locally would be a vital step, especially as joint strategic commissioning plans are being developed locally over the next year.

The reshaping care programme is intended to last until 2021, so there is time to reflect on the work, much of it good, which has already been done. But a protracted, piecemeal approach won’t work for such a mammoth change, on which so many of the older people of tomorrow will depend.

Celebrating our 2013 Awards winners

The Age Scotland Awards 2013 ceremony was held in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 1st October.  In our video speakers pay tribute to the Awards winners and runners-up.

Each day next week we’ll post profiles of our Awards winners, including video footage and interviews.  

  • May Wallace: Volunteer of the Year
  • Thomas Whitelaw: Jess Barrow Award for Campaigning and Influencing
  • Food Train Friends: Services for Older People Award
  • Citadel Arts Group: Age Scotland Member Group of the Year
  • Clackmannanshire Older Adults Forum: Patrick Brooks Award for Partnership Working.