A pioneering project to help vulnerable older people get back on their feet after a stay in hospital this winter has been handed a huge cash boost.

The Hospital to Home scheme (H2H) has been given £300,000 to support hundreds of local people as they settle back into home life after an illness or injury.

Managed by Age UK Leeds in partnership with Leeds City Council, local health services, British Red Cross and other community and voluntary sector groups, the project will see a team of dedicated volunteers working to prevent older people going back into hospital once they have gone home and making sure they don’t become isolated while they recover.

Volunteers will be recruited from local charities as well as the city’s 37 council-funded neighbourhood networks.

The community-based networks, which run a range of services and activities, prevented 1,450 older people from going into hospital and supported 617 more who had been discharged last year alone.

Working directly with hospitals and local adult social care to identify patients in need of extra support, volunteers on the Hospital to Home team will ensure older people are not left to cope with their recovery alone.

Councillor Adam Ogilvie, Leeds City Council’s executive member for adult social care, said:

“Adjusting to home life after a stay in hospital is an anxious time for anyone, but for older people there is the added worry of getting transport back home, getting around the house and, for many, wondering when they will next see a visitor or a friendly face.

“That transitional period is a very vulnerable time for older people, when they can be at risk of either going back into hospital or becoming isolated and lonely, particularly over the winter months when getting out and about can become much more difficult.

“Having a team dedicated to making that transition less stressful will make a massive difference and this money will be a huge boost to a project that is a genuine lifeline to older people in Leeds.”

Funding for the project has come from a new £2m cash pot set up by the cabinet office’s Centre for Social Action, NHS England, Monitor, the NHS Trust Development Authority (TDA) and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS).

In addition to support following discharge from hospital, support will be offered to all eligible older people when they arrive in A and E. They will then be referred to a H2H Neighbourhood Support before they go home, who will ensure they get the help they need.

Support could include shopping, cooking and prescription collections, home safety checks and cleaning.

The funding will help the project support an estimated 1,400 patients over the next six months, including during the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Heather O’Donnell, chief executive at Age UK Leeds said:

“We are delighted to be leading this project with our partners. We hope the project will reduce pressures on local hospitals and very importantly improve the experience of older people after a stay in hospital or visit to A and E.

“We will work with older people to support them to maintain their independence, improve their wellbeing and give them greater choice and control over their lives.

“Older people across Leeds are relying on your support to help with minor practical tasks and provide emotional reassurance so that that they are safe and confident after their return home from hospital.

“We are looking for volunteers across Leeds who could be a friendly face and help them settle back into their own home.”

For details about how you can help support Hospital to Home as a volunteer, please contact Alexandra Boyle on 0113 389 3017.

Julie Duerden, Project Manager for the new service, can also be contacted on Julie.duerden@ageukleeds.org for further information

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