Graham Harper: Changing a life can be easy

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We all hear about health and social care integration as the way forward for our ageing population and stretched health services. But what does this really mean in practice?

At its most basic level, it’s about enabling public service providers to work together to help our most vulnerable people continue to live independently and safely in their own homes for as long as possible. 

Currently in its 30th year, Care and Repair Edinburgh is a charity which provides a range of practical services and advice to assist older and disabled people in Edinburgh to do just that. These include a trusted volunteer handyperson service, a home-from-hospital adaptation service, small repairs and home improvements, as well as safe referrals to vetted professional tradespeople. 

Our volunteers help because they know they can change lives – even in their lunch break.  However much, or little, spare time people have, it makes such a difference to an older person to have the support.  By carrying out odd jobs, DIY or even something as simple as changing a light bulb, being a volunteer can enable older people to stay at home, retain independence and know they have help at hand.

And not only do volunteers help improve lives; they’re also helping our vital health services do more with less. The average cost of keeping someone for a week in an acute hospital is £4600, but often they can’t leave because they need minor alterations at home to help them to live there safely.  Yet a week of care in a home setting is just £300 to £400, and Care and Repair Edinburgh can make sure that transition happens quickly, smoothly and cheaply.

That’s why we’re now looking for more volunteers with passion and skills to help – whether through, DIY or helping older people stay connected with the outside world through PCs, smart phones or digital TVs. Many older people are lonely and if you enjoy a natter while you help them, so much the better.

Last year, our handyperson volunteers carried out 1169 jobs for vulnerable people in Edinburgh, but there’s so much more that can be achieved. Changing a life really can be as easy as changing a light bulb, so join us and help make a difference. 

Graham Harper is CEO of Care and Repair Edinburgh