Silverlinks update: Rochdale

Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale Circle (HMR Circle) began delivering a Silverlinks project in December 2016.  HMR Circle is a membership organisation for older people in the area providing social activities as well as practical support for older people via a network of Helpers.

Since December, HMR Circle have given information about housing & care to over 600 people, have supported 24 individuals with making decisions about their housing & care, and have provided information via “Pass it On” talks to  50 people.  A great start to the project in the area with lots more to come!

Here are two examples of people that have been supported.

Mrs S

Mrs S lived in the family home, but as it was on a hill she had trouble going out shopping. HMR Circle gave her some information via Silverlinks about the different housing available so she could begin thinking about whether to stay put or move.    She decided that the time was right for her to move, so she put her house on the market and and now lives on her own now at Arnold Bagnall Court, an Independent Living Scheme.

She is very happy now because she can access the buses and has the local amenities within walking distance. This has been a very good move for her. Mrs S has also been able to show other people who have come into contact with Silverlinks through HMR Circle, by showing them round her new flat and the scheme she lives in.

HMR Circle have since supported her with learning how to use ‘Facetime’ so she can keep in touch with her son who lives abroad.

Mr D

Mr D, who lives on his own in his own home was very poorly over Christmas.  He had become depressed and lonely because he could not get out. He has lived in his house for 11 years yet hardly knows any of his neighbours.  He is not in the best of health and has trouble sleeping.  He had been sleeping on a reclining chair because he has difficulty getting out of bed.

Mr D approached HMR Circle for some advice on what might be the best option for him in terms of his housing.  Mr D was taken to visit Mrs S in her new home in Arnold Bagnall Court, who showed him around her flat and chatted about living in an Independent Living Scheme so he could see if this type of housing was something he might consider.

This had a positive outcome because he now knew that he would have to considerably downsize in order to move to a similar property and that this was not an option for him at the moment. HMR Circle suggested that small adaptations and some help in the home would make a world of difference for him.   He has now engaged a cleaning contractor to do his general house cleaning and ironing and has ordered an adjustamatic bed to enable him to sleep in a bed  rather than his chair.


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Volunteer Spotlight: Ian

Our Silverlinks volunteers support older people who are facing decisions about their housing and care.  Many of our volunteers have had first hand experience of facing decisions about moving home in later life, having adaptations or supporting a loved one through this process.    With this experience they are able to listen to other older people and understand their situation.

Silverlinks volunteer Ian


Today we hear from Ian, a volunteer in Cornwall.  He tells us about his experience in moving in later life and some of the difficulties he faced, and why he wants to help other people in similar situations.   Many thanks to Ian for sharing this  – please click the link to read Ian’s Story 



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Older Old People – Housing, Health & Care: Some reflections on the findings of the Cambridge City over-75s Cohort Study

The Cambridge City over-75s Cohort Study (CC75C) has been taking place for over 30 years and is one of the largest and longest-running longitudinal observational studies of ageing into older age.

It was started in 1985 from a survey of over 2,600 men and women aged 75 and above. Intensive assessments were carried out and every few years follow up surveys, interviews and tests were carried out with sample groups.

Several topics were looked at including use of health and social services, socio-demographics and social contact, depression, the “older old” approaching the end of life, cognitive decline and dementia, and falls and functional ability.

The focus in the latter part of the study shifted to quality of life issues of “older old” people near the end of life.  Findings from this area of research were recently presented and focussed on three specific topic areas: “moving in very old age”, “experiences of formal and informal care in older old age”, and “end of life care issues – attitudes and preferences of very old people”.

The Silverlinks initiative focusses on people’s choices about housing & care in later life, so the findings on moving in very old age (aged 95 and over) are of particular relevance.

59% of participants in this sample group moved, many into care homes (76% of those that moved) and almost all were reactive moves as a result of a crisis such as hospitalisation (e.g. as a result of a fall), increased cognitive impairment or following a bereavement.  Only two people made a pro-active move.

One of the findings/reflections given by the study that stood out to me was that: “older people experienced regret and loss when they did not feel they owned the decision to move”.

This is very pertinent and conveys the importance of thinking ahead and the availability of I&A around housing options.   Although some decisions to move have to be made on medical grounds, for example if a is person experiencing severe cognitive decline, the question arises  – had these people been able to plan ahead for their future housing & care needs, would they be experiencing these feelings of regret? Is a decision made at a time of crisis – and perhaps by another person – always the best decision for the older person?

The study also found that those that moved into more familiar surroundings, whether a proactive or reactive move, were happier and experienced reduced feelings of isolation – for example if they moved to a care home where they had friends or knew someone that worked there.  This again suggests that being able to plan ahead and choose a particular residential setting (which is not always possible or practical) where a person has connections to the place or people may have a positive effect on wellbeing.  The study found that day care centres and schemes provide an important stepping stone allowing older people to build connections in their locality, potentially making a move to a residential setting easier. This highlights an issue around local availability and choice.

People that did not know anyone within their setting more frequently reported feelings of loneliness.   One lady who moved into a residential care home, miles from her home but close to her family, reported increased loneliness after moving.  Although she had proactively decided to move, she found that the unfamiliar surroundings and people and not being able to visit friends had a greater impact than she anticipated.

One of the other key findings and reflections on the study was that “older people need support to make housing decisions prior to crisis”.  This is exactly what the work carried out by Silverlinks is aiming to address through working with groups of older people and through our local projects.


Interestingly, although not surprisingly, all of those that moved were single households (single, widowed or divorced) and overwhelmingly female with only one of the group being male.  This highlights the need for housing options information & advice to be spread to as many people as possible in an accessible way.  Knowing where to go for information & advice about housing options is a key factor in reaching the right decision.  The Silverlinks “Pass it On” talks aim to do this by reaching those older people that are perhaps more active (e.g. those that attend community or church groups) who then pass on information to their neighbours, friends and family who may be more isolated and need support in finding information about housing and care.  The Silverlinks peer support model also becomes particularly important in allowing older people – perhaps in particular those that are single or may not have relatives – to talk through their options enabling them to reach the decision that is right for them.

A useful addition to the Cambridge study from a Silverlinks point of view would be a follow up with those people that chose not to move, to explore why they made this decision and what the impact of this has been.  It would also be interesting to see if any of these people had adaptations or moderations to their home to help them with daily living, and the difference this had made to their lives.

The study was focused on people aged 95 and over – it would be useful to see some findings from younger participants or those who moved at an earlier stage – did they experience the same in terms of decision making, were they able to plan ahead, how many of them proactively moved and how did they come to this decision?  Do they feel it was the right decision for them?

This is just part of a huge study into ageing, in which many topics are addressed.  For Silverlinks, the observations around moving in old age are pertinent as they provide further evidence that more support, advice and information is needed for older people who are facing decisions about housing and care, and that a lack of ownership of a decision can cause feelings of regret, loss and increased isolation.

Further information on the study can be found at

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Silverlinks Cornwall update

Here’s an update from Ann, who delivers the Silverlinks project in Cornwall:

Last month the Silverlinks Volunteers in Cornwall met together over lunch for training for adaptations in the home from Lisa Lord, Keyworker and Richard Kitson, Surveyor. Lisa explained the process for a Disabled Facility Grant  and  the team involvement.  The feedback from the meeting was good and the volunteers  felt it would be very useful to them when speaking to beneficiaries of the Silver Links project.

 There are now 8 volunteers, two having declined volunteering due to ill health but the volunteers that we have are very keen and keep in contact with the beneficiaries that they speak with.  In January they have been invited to a training session on Attendance allowance, PIP and Pension Credit  and in February one of our volunteers Dr Blake, is going to talk to us about questioning techniques which should be very interesting and should help when contacting beneficiaries.

We are keen to  work in partnership with Age UK who have recently been working in the main hospital in Cornwall to try and help speed up hospital discharge.  We will keep you posted on our progress.


Cornwall volunteers at a training session

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Making the Housing Connections: Silverlinks Interim Report

The Silverlinks initiative has published an interim report which is now available to download.

The report, “Making the Housing Connections” looks at the impact of Silverlinks on the older people it aims to benefit, Silverlinks volunteers and delivery partners.  It aims to demonstrate the demand for information & advice about housing & care options in later life, and how peer support can help to build this capacity playing a complementary role alongside skilled professional advisers.   Individual case studies provide examples of how Silverlinks can benefit older people who are facing decisions about their housing & care.

Download report here


Photo: Yorkshire Post Newspapers

Photo: Yorkshire Post Newspapers

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Silverlinks Cornwall Blog update – September 2016

Cornwall’s Silverlinks project has been working incredibly hard over the past few months to raise more awareness of later life planning and supporting our volunteers to feel confident in their role.

We are meeting on a monthly basis to either attend information talks or demonstration days to support the volunteers to increase their knowledge of adaptations or the relocation journey. We have been informing the volunteers of how the Home Solutions team works and our processes to reach the end goal of an adaptation or relocation being achieved.

On Wednesday 7th September 2016 my colleague Ann Hawkey set up a demonstration day at Tremorvah Industries in Truro. We work closely with Tremorvah to provide bespoke stair lifts, providing assistive technology gadgets, motorised wheel chair/scooter repairs to name a few; Tremorvah deliver many more services!

Our other 2 Housing Solutions Officers and a keyworker (who installs adaptations)  came on the day to show their support and to meet some of our newest volunteers. Ann and I asked the other Housing Solutions colleagues to be there so that they could explain what their role is and how Housing Solutions works.

It was a successful morning with great feedback from our volunteers about how interesting it was to see what products can be installed in people’s homes, to increase their independence and enable them to remain at home.


Some of our Silverlinks volunteers and Housing Solutions officers discussing the assistive technology gadgets after a demonstration.



From left – Muriel, Emily, Tammy, Pat & Rachel enjoying a pressure mat alarm demonstration in the Tremorvah Smart House bedroom.


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Volunteer stories: Silverlinks in Cornwall

Silverlinks in Cornwall is well under way, being delivered by  Ann Hawkey and Emily Ellis from Cornwall Council’s Home Solutions Team.   Today we hear from Ann who tells us the story of one of their volunteers, Gordon, who has first-hand experience of both adaptations and moving home.   He will be able to use this personal experience to support others who are in similar situations.  Here is his story:

“Gordon is a seventy year old man, who was living alone in an Ocean Flat (Ocean is a social landlord).  He previously lived with his daughter but could not return there following the amputation of his left leg, as the property was unsuitable.

Gordon was in hospital for 40 weeks and then went to a hostel to stay as he had nowhere else to go and during this time enrolled with Home Choice (Cornwall’s social housing register) and given an A banding.  He bid on an Ocean property in Newquay which looked as if it was suitable for a disabled person as it had a level access shower & widened doors, and the advert showed a wheelchair motif. Gordon did not visit the property before signing the tenancy.  He found himself living in a property that was unsuitable for him as although the bedroom door had widened the bathroom door had not so he was totally reliant on his carers transferring him to a shower chair so that he could get into the bathroom as the door was too narrow for his wheelchair. He could not get out of the flat on his own as it had a step into it and two steps from the communal entrance to outside. He felt very isolated in the flat and rarely went out as he was totally reliant on someone to help him outside. An Occupational Therapist visited him and suggested moving rather than adapting the flat might be the best option, and Gordon agreed.

I helped Gordon to complete a Welfare form with a supporting letter from his OT.  We bid on 2 properties for him and I visited them with his OT but they were unsuitable for Gordon mainly because of the turning space he needed for his wheelchair to access all the rooms independently. Gordon was successful in a bid on a flat in a sheltered housing block of flats and I visited with his OT to check for suitability. Fortunately it was very suitable as it was spacious and already had a level access shower fitted and all the doors were widened, so Gordon was able to move in.

I helped him to arrange for a removal company to pack his belongings and move him to the new flat. I also arranged for a key safe to be fitted outside to allow his carers to access the flat as they were visiting Gordon 4 times daily.

Gordon is very happy with his new home as he has more independence and can access all rooms in the flat and go outside on his own. He feels much safer in his new home as previously he was concerned with the fire risk as he could not get out on his own.  He only has his carers twice a day as the flat is close to the town, he can shop for himself and is much more independent. He chats to other tenants and feels less isolated. Because the flat had already been adapted and suitable for Gordons needs, the need to access DFG funding has been avoided.

Gordon has agreed to be a volunteers and will be invaluable to pass on his experiences about moving and adaptations, especially to people who are in a wheelchair and what to look for when searching for a suitable property. “

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“Looking Ahead” – new film about housing decisions in later life

Silverlinks is all about older people sharing their experiences about making housing & care decisions in later life.   We are delighted to share with you this photo film, “Looking Ahead” in which Kath Ford shares her experiences of downsizing.  Kath talks about why she and her partner, Rob, who experienced increasing disability, chose to move into sheltered housing and her experiences of living there.

If you are thinking about your future housing and care, please look at the “Information for Older People” page for further information and resources to help you think through the possible options.

Film by Lorna Easterbrook, Potted Films.

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Northumberland Silverlinks Event – Wooler 2016

Wooler 1 wooler 2 wooler 3 wooler 4Following the success of last year’s event in Wooler, North Northumberland, which was based around helping older people find the right property for their needs, it was decided to focus this year’s event on providing information for clients who would like to remain in their own homes.

Age UK Northumberland worked in partnership with the Glendale Gateway Trust, an independent charitable, community development trust set up to support the community in and around Wooler – one of the most sparsely populated areas of the country.

The event was advertised in all the local surgeries and community centres, where necessary transport was laid on for the more rural areas. Providers of care and services or older people were invited to come along to a “market-stall” event where clients could pick up all the information without obligation in order to prepare for the future.

The stall holders covered a wide range of services from mobility equipment; small pieces of equipment for making life easier around the home; heating; holistic therapies and meal deliveries! 

There was an opportunity over a buffet lunch to chat to clients about their needs; swap stories and for service providers to network.

The inquires received from clients included wanting to know the costs of domestic help or the price of mobility equipment to wanting to find out if it was possible to have 24 hour live in care in rural Northumberland for him and his wife as neither of them wanted to go in to residential care.  The most notable client of the day was a lady who wanted information about all services available for older people, she was 91 years old and stated, “I am just picking up the information for when I get older”!

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Spotlight on Silverlinks hospital partnership

Silverlinks Nottingham Delivered through Age UK Notts has a well-established partnership with Lings Bar Hospital in Nottingham’s Gamston area.  Lings Bar is an NHS trust hospital with three rehabilitation and pre-discharge wards for older people who have often had primary treatment in the city’s other hospitals including the Queens Medical Centre and City Hospital.

Lings Bar also provides mental health services.

The Silverlinks co-ordinator accompanied by experienced Silverlinks volunteers conduct a regular bedside “ward round” of the three older persons’ wards.

When Mary Cann, the Silverlinks co-ordinator, took over the role in July 2015 she wanted to make sure that the monthly Silverlinks visits and the format that had been developed for delivery of Silverlinks support was still relevant to patients and their families within the hospital.

To this end Mary addressed a full team meeting of the Lings bar staff. It was established that the Silverlinks visits were still very much valued by staff and patients as well as their families. Staff indicated that though the hospital itself provided a level of support to ensure that patients were discharged to home environments that met their needs there was still a need for peer to peer support from Silverlinks volunteers as well as co-ordinator advice and signposting.

This is because it is important to inpatients and their families that they can access independent empathetic support from Silverlinks peer to peer volunteers who have experienced similar challenges in respect of housing and care needs. These volunteers are proof positive that a happy outcome can be forthcoming even from adverse circumstances and the need to make major life changes in respect of housing and care. Also to benefit from a plethora of potential support via referral and signposting by the co-ordinator to other services both inside and outside Age UK Notts.

For example Silverlinks provides a clear referral pathway to the specialist Housing and Care Options Advisor who has up to date local knowledge and strong local partnerships. These are utilised in the service of finding the best solutions and preventing crises for older people facing change. Clients can also benefit from direct referral to the advisor’s dedicated Lings Bar Age UK Notts Advocate colleague.

The Silverlinks Lings Bar initiative is an example of the excellent standard of service that can be jointly delivered through trusted partner relationships with NHS healthcare professionals. These help empower clients and optimise their independence in order to produce the best possible outcomes and in turn assist the reduction of re escalation of needs after discharge which can so often lead to avoidable re-admissions.

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