A new project run by Age UK Enfield is offering advice and support, writes Ciara McNulty
Nine months ago we launched the iCan project in Enfield – providing support for conditions such as dementia, diabetes and strokes to keep people independent and healthy.
This project was created by Age UK Enfield, Alphacare, Lea Valley Crossroads Care, and Attend – with a successful joint bid for funding made to Enfield Council. An added intervention for iCan is to support people who are isolated and lonely and might need end-of-life information.
For the project to function a manager and four ‘navigators’ were appointed and I was lucky to be one of the navigators. We began our task by mapping the whole borough to find out exactly what support services already existed in Enfield for these conditions. We then split the borough into quadrants and each navigator went out and became an expert on everything that was going on in their patch.
This included not just health and social care services but voluntary sector support groups and social groups such as lunch clubs, memory clubs for people with dementia, exercise classes, and falls prevention classes. It was heart-warming to see how many voluntary groups there are and meet so many people who give their time to run these groups with enthusiasm and kindness.
The next task was to find ways of making ourselves as visible as possible in the community so that people could access help. We approached GP surgeries, libraries, Enfield Civic Centre, North Middlesex and Chase Farm hospitals, and other community centres. We then successfully set up 32 ‘pop-up’ surgeries where people can come and talk to us and we can hopefully help to signpost and organise support for them. If people’s problems are complex we can offer home visits.
The other remit of my iCan navigator role is to give talks around the community and raise awareness of how to prevent or better manage these conditions. We organise quarterly awareness events and are currently in the process of setting up a ‘Tea and Chatter’ social group in a library in each part of the borough.
We have had some excellent feedback on iCan so far, including one GP surgery saying it was dealing with things that would have otherwise used up precious appointment time.
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