£600,000 a year ‘self care’ scheme encouraging people to look after themselves at home launched to ease health service pressures in South Tyneside

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A scheme encouraging South Tyneside residents to take more responsibility for their healthcare will cost £600,000 a year.

South Tyneside Council’s director of public health, Tom Hall, revealed the ‘A Better U’ plans at the council’s health and wellbeing board.

Leader of South Tyneside Council, Coun Iain Malcolm.

Leader of South Tyneside Council, Coun Iain Malcolm.

The scheme aims to change the way health services are designed, commissioned, provided and regulated.

This includes providing more information to residents to help them manage health conditions in their homes.

In practice, it aims to take pressure off health services in the borough by promoting “self-care” and providing more information on services.

An aging population is a large pressure. Mr Hall said the number of over 85s tripling since 1981 and one in five people currently aged over 65 in South Tyneside as of 2015.

By 2036, he added, there will be an extra 13,400 over 65s and extra 3,700 over 85s with predicted spikes in dementia, diabetes, obesity and limiting long term illness affecting health services.

“We need to recognise that our system is heading towards an iceberg of need and demand in the future and we very much need to shift our course,” he said.

Other pressures include social deprivation, mental health and the rise of long term conditions - which make up 70 per cent of the overall NHS health care spend in England.

Head of adults and integrated care at South Tyneside Council, Vicki Pattinson, said the scheme’s ethos was about “what matters to you, rather than what is the matter with you”.

The scheme will start by helping people “outside the existing system” from over 50s living in areas of deprivation and patients with long term conditions, to those with disabilities or mental health issues.

Staff training and one to one coaching for vulnerable people would be provided, alongside “person-centered” processes and mapping existing health services in the borough to support communities to “fill gaps”.

Healthcare professionals would also be given more freedom to run practices and there would be extra support for carers, public consultations and awareness campaigns.

South Tyneside Council Leader and health board chairman, Iain Malcolm, said the approach is “not unique” with other authorities having similar challenges.

Coun Malcolm added that the scheme was a “work in progress” and as the partnership with Sunderland deepens a joint strategy would have to be developed.

The board agreed to back the scheme which will see a pooled and ring-fenced £600k pot alongside the creation of a ‘Better U Strategy Group’.

Before the scheme is put in place, the board must create a budget, a three-year business plan and appoint someone to lead the scheme.

The health and wellbeing board includes senior members of South Tyneside Council and representatives from the areas health boards and clinical commissioning groups.

A more detailed proposal is expected to return to the board in future.

Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service