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The economic value of older people’s community based preventative services

Following eight years’ of operation, Dorset Partnership for Older People Projects (POPP) commissioned NDTi to carry out some research to consider the economic value of their community led preventative approach to working with older people. As well as improving the quality of life of older people in Dorset, Dorset POPP projects also aim to save public costs by preventing use of health services, hospitals and residential care.

The first section of the report reviews the evidence of research which has looked at the economic value of comparable preventative projects and services in the UK. Although the evidence in general is relatively limited, overall it suggests that the approaches that Dorset POPP takes - partnership working, signposting, multi-agency referral and low-level community interventions - provide economic value in terms of efficiency and the prevention of health and social care costs.

The second section of the report draws on some cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness approaches taken in the existing research and applies it to contact monitoring and cost data from some of the Dorset POPP projects to consider their economic value. Based on the figures available it is estimated that:

• If Wayfinders’ interventions prevented at least 2 of the 5,514 contacts made in the outcome area of “having housing suitable for needs” going into residential care for 12 months, the investment would represent value for money.

• If Wayfinders’ interventions prevented at least 82 of the 11,373 contacts made in the outcome area of “addressing social isolation” needing GP treatment for mental health problems, the investment would represent value for money.  

• If attending a group funded by the POPP Community Initiatives Commissioning Fund prevented at least 2 people of the 172 people who attended a group aimed at promoting physical exercise needing treatment for diabetes for a year, the investment would represent value for money.

• If the ‘sloppy slipper’ falls prevention events prevent at least 1 of the 3,000 people who received slippers falling and fracturing their hip, the intervention represents value for money.

• £8000 investment in the Safe And Independent Living multi-agency referral scheme could prevent £25,267 in additional referral costs for partner organisations over a year. To put it another way, for every £1 invested in SAIL a further £3.15 may be saved in further referral costs.

Overall, the findings suggest that the community based preventative approaches that Dorset POPP takes provide economic value in preventing health and social care costs. This research highlights the need for organisations to collect the data in order to be able to demonstrate economic value, as well as value in terms of improving the lives of older people.