Suffolk Flexicare Conference

Yesterday I hosted a major Conference at Newmarket Racecourse where about 150 Local Politicians, District and Borough Planners, Care Providers, Community Groups and Health and Social Care professionals from across Suffolk came together with the County’s ACS team to discuss how we want the care offer in Suffolk to look like in 10 years time and beyond.

I opened the day with a speech to try to set the context of what was before us and what we needed to do during the course of the day to move the debate along.

“Good morning everyone!

I am delighted to welcome you to this important conference.

I believe that the timing of today’s event couldn’t come at a more crucial moment as we consider how to effectively deliver services to older people in the unique and challenging times that lie ahead.  

My name is Colin Noble, and I am the portfolio holder for Adult & Community Services at Suffolk County Council. I am very pleased to see so many of our partners and colleagues here at today’s event.

I cannot emphasise enough how important this shared and united approach will be to our collective success over the coming years.

In preparing my notes for today I thought to myself why is today so important, and I did not have to look far, my mother is 65 and my father is 70 and they are as we say ‘getting older’ who knows what the future will bring, ideally I would like them to be in perfect health until their late 90’s and ‘drop off their perch’ quickly, but I know that might not be the case and not only will they and our family need to address their care needs, those needs may well be quite different and what I know is that we will need options.

Depending on their needs we might need support in their own home, we might need to consider a great flat in a Extra Care housing scheme, sorry as I see Judith in the Audience sorry very sheltered housing, or they might need a bit more support provided in a residential care home, options but not just for my parents but options across our lovely county for all our parents and older residents.

Looking slightly further ahead, not only will our parents need those options but so will we and the steps we are taking and will take in the future will profoundly effect the choices we will be able to make to address our future needs.

So what are the things that we believe we know in these uncertain times?

Firstly, that we face an unenviable combination of challenges.

For a start, the harsh financial environment, and I know one of our next speaker Adrian will talk about how this can affect the best laid plans, its implications are becoming ever clearer.

Unprecedented times of austerity are with us, and we cannot avoid the necessity of severe spending cuts to public services.

We also know that the impact of people living longer and needing care and support will place many pressures on the services we deliver.

The number of people with dementia is also increasing, and I know today we will heard about the alarming increases we are going to see here in this county and we must provide services to support not only dementia sufferers but also their families and carers.


715,000 people live in Suffolk

140,000 19% are aged over 65

40,000 6% of them are aged over 80.

Today 10,000 people live with dementia.

By 2015 the number of people aged over 65 will have increased to 169,000 rising to 211,000 by 2025 – an increase of 50%.

By 2015 the number of people aged over 80 will have increased to 46,500 rising to 67,000 by 2025 – an increase of 63%.

By 2015 the number of people with dementia will have increased to 11,700 rising to 16,000 by 2025 – an increase of 60%.

With all of this in mind, it is too easy to think we face an overwhelming challenge. But it is with this challenge in mind that we are holding this conference so that we can start the work to meet this challenge together.

If we are to succeed, we must make essential changes that could amount to revolutionising the way in which we offer care and support to Suffolk’s older people in future.

We have a lot to be proud of in Suffolk, our next speaker, Sue, will talk about some of the great services things that are being provided today in Babergh District, across

Suffolk we can also be proud of our pioneering approach to our extra care or very sheltered housing.

However we cannot afford to stand still and we must keep moving forward if we are to respond to the challenges that face us.

We have to recognise that the expectations that people have of public services are very different and we need to adapt and innovate to keep pace.

We must create an environment here is Suffolk where demand is recognised not is some global sense but in each town and village where we live and re-shape all aspects of our organisations so we are ‘open for business’ from granting planning permissions to commissioning and supporting care providers if we are to have the capacity to meet that demand and the expectations of those people we serve.

The Government’s strategic direction for adult social care is epitomised by the personalisation of social care, and this approach is also being reflected in the future direction for the NHS.

By putting the emphasis on people as the best judges of the decisions that affect them by taking control of their lives, we will have to think very differently. This is especially the case for the county council and NHS in their roles as commissioners, purchasers, providers and planners of services.

The county council’s Cabinet agreed the Flexicare strategy in December last year as a response to these challenges.

Today’s conference presents us with the opportunity to agree and endorse this joint approach. This means all of us leaving this conference with a clear understanding of what we will do and how we can contribute to bringing services for older people into the 21st Century.

We produced the Flexicare strategy because the challenges and issues that we face are so pressing that we believe we should take a lead in enabling the partnership working that is central to the way we meet these challenges.

The Flexicare strategy is founded on the recognition that none of the challenges that we face can be tackled alone.

There is no problem that impacts only on one agency or organisation; to get the best outcome for Suffolk people we have to work together to make a difference. 

At the same time as providing outstanding and truly modern services, we must make sure they are as efficient and cost effective as possible.

Flexicare is about giving people ‘control and choice’ over how they maintain their independence and live happy and healthy lives.

This spearheads the personalisation agenda by empowering people to take the decisions that affect their lives. We need to think differently about how we develop a range of services, including care and support in the home, housing and supporting Suffolk’s family carers.

The third element of the strategy is prevention. We cannot champion and enable independence if we do not work together to minimise the impact of long-term conditions that affect every aspect of older people’s lives.

This is not only about having the services and support in place for older people but also how to enhance the health and well being of Suffolk people as they age.

If more, older people could enjoy active and healthy lives, involving exercise and social opportunities, they will not only live longer but may never need more intensive support such as home care – a significant saving.

Collectively this is our strategy, which proposes a clear way ahead.

It gives us an exciting opportunity for us to deliver together in a way that will improve services for a generation.

I would argue that we cannot fail to seize and do all we can to make sure this strategy is a success.

Today’s programme is designed to make us think about what the future should look like, what we should be doing and how we are going to do it.

With our collective imagination, hard work and creativity we can really ‘make a difference’.

Today will be challenging and hopefully enjoyable as we look ahead to where we want to be and I am looking forward to working with you to make it happen!

Thank you.”

It truly was a remarkable day with a wide range of speakers from private care home developers and providers talking about their difficult planning journey; County Council staff talking about the new services we are rolling out; to a community groups talking about what they are setting up in their community to help people with Dementia.

The 4 different workshops ran through the day and asked the very difficult questions about what services will we deliver in the future and how can we improve the lives of older people across Suffolk in the years to come, there certainly was no chance to sit at the back and have a snooze

At lunch time I asked the Councillors in the room to joint me and senior ACS staff to a private room and over a sandwich or two, we have a ‘Chatham House rules’ debate about the political challenges about what we want to do in the future in our two tier local government structure, to say this session was useful is an understatement and I got a real sense of what we need to be doing to move the agenda forward in a political context.

For me and I said so in my summing up of the day in the late afternoon, the litmus test for any conference is how many people stay to the close and remarkable over 80% of those there at the start of the day saw it through to my closing remarks. The Waverney table stayed until the end and most of them had a journey of over an hour and a half to get home and on a Friday night to boot!

The key challenge from such a complex and great day is to keep the momentum up so from the conference will come a number of briefing papers aimed at different groups and the launch of Suffolk Flexicare 2 coming to a venue near you, if you would like to get involved in this care revolution please let me know and I’ll make sure you are added to the list.

About askcolinnoble
I'm a Conservative politician-lite, I dabble a bit in Party Politics with my main focus of working hard and being a strong voice for my community making sure local government delivers quality services and fellow residents get value for money for their hard earned money they pay in Council tax | Where this Gravatar appears and I am expressing my views or liking something I do so in a personal capacity and does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of Suffolk County Council, Forest Heath District Council, the Conservative Party or come to think of it anyone else | But having said the above at an election time and to stay legal, anything I write is promoted by Lance Stanbury on behalf of Colin Noble, both at West Suffolk Conservative Association, Park Farm Cottage, Fordham St. Genevieve, BurySt. Edmunds, Suffolk IP28 6TS

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