A spotlight of our work focusing on older people in rural areas.
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This newsletter is provided by the Rural Services Network.

It focuses on a study produced by Rural England, a Rural Research organisation.


This research investigates key issues affecting the vulnerability of older rural residents and considers their future implications in the context of an ageing rural population.

The report focuses on 4 key areas:

  • Income & Poverty
  • Health
  • Adverse actions of others
  • Isolation & loneliness
Older people in rural areas
  • 23% of the rural population is aged over 65 compared to 16% in urban areas. This gap is growing and the percentage of people aged over 85 is increasing
  • Funding for supported bus services decreased by 25% in the five years to 2015/16
  • Spending on adult social care decreased by approximately 20% in two years from 2011/12
  • There are some 5.8 million informal carers in England and Wales

The importance of rural volunteers
From providing services in your local community to doing whatever is required to help out, understanding the social value of volunteering is now finding its way onto the policy agenda. What traditional and newer measurement approaches are emerging and what do they mean for rural communities? Jessica Sellick investigates.

Growing challenge of the rural elderly
One in five elderly people in the UK feels they have no-one to turn to, according to the Campaign to End Loneliness. So what can be done to tackle loneliness in older people in the countryside? Jessica Sellick investigates.

Transport for an ageing rural society
Viable alternative transport options to the car is important for the health and wellbeing of an ageing population, says Brian Wilson.

Rural Vulnerability - Older People Report was researched and produced by Rural England.

Click here to visit the Rural England website for more information and to view the report. 

To find out more about Rural England, click here.

Key findings from the report include:
  • Increasing difficulties in accessing services
  • Levels of relative poverty similar to urban areas
  • Decreasing funding for social care
  • Reliance on informal care by family
  • Wide geographical variations in health funding
  • High incidence of loneliness
  • Little information on crime, neglect or abuse
(Rural Health Conference)
Rural Health Network
The Rural Health Network enables anyone involved in delivering services in rural areas to share ideas, network and share best practice. New members are always welcome and if your organisation would like to find out more, please contact us on 01822 851370 or visit the Rural Health Network section on our website for more information.
Key points of interest from the research
  • The oldest old people are overrepresented in rural areas especially the South, South West and East Anglia placing disproportionate demands on Health and Social services in those areas
  • Health and Social Care funding does not adequately reflect the percentage of older people in a particular area or the additional costs associated with sparsity
  • The rural elderly are more likely to live in housing which is older, in poor condition and/or poorly designed in relation to their needs. This difficulty is compounded by the lack of options to move to more suitable accommodation within their home community
  • Certain items of expenditure, such as heating bills and transport costs, tend to be high in a rural setting.  The very old may face extra running and one-off costs for things such as heating, personal care and home adaptation
  • A high proportion of rural pensioners live off the mains gas network and depend on more expensive home heating fuels.  The level of fuel poverty is related both to (small) settlement size and to population sparsity
  • 59% of victims of doorstep crime are aged over 75
  • Social isolation is related to negative impacts on health and well-being
Rural Services Network Manifesto
Seeking the best for rural England, 2015 to 2020
Includes a whole chapter dedicated to Older People

It calls on the government to address key issues including:
  • Ensure that the formula used to allocate local government finance properly takes better account of the additional cost of delivering services such as adult social care in rural areas
  • Ensure that where older people’s support services are subject to competition, new providers cannot cherry pick and simply deliver in urban centres where it is easier for them to keep costs down.
  • Ensure that opportunities presented by the Care Act and Children’s & Families Act take account of rural issues, such as gaps in primary care capacity which can impact on adult social services.  Extend the Better Care Fund beyond its current timescale.
  • Decentralise more health services to primary care settings, to improve their rural accessibility, and offer more preventative services within GP surgeries.
  • Identify and promote delivery models such as outreach provision, which take services to users.  More services could be delivered to older people’s homes or nearby outlets, for example repeat prescriptions taken to village post offices.
  • Support local initiatives such as Good Neighbour, Village Agent and First Contact schemes, which help older people remain in their own homes and improve their quality of life.  They can also deliver valuable services, such as fire safety checks.  Ensure such schemes have routes to grant funding to establish and sustain them.
  • Promote a market-led approach to specialist housing development, which offers older people a choice of both market and affordable homes where they can continue to live independently.  This would also release more housing for younger rural households.  Enabling the development of ‘granny annexes’ or similar, would similarly help.
Send to others interested in Rural Older People
The Rural Services Network is an organisation comprising over 100 local authorities and 120 other public service providers seeking to establish links across public service, identifying and broadcasting best practise and making representations on rural service issues.  For details please visit our website www.rsnonline.org.uk

If you would like to find out more about our services or to join, please contact us on 01822 851370 or admin@sparse.gov.uk
Copyright © 2016 Rural Services Network, All rights reserved.

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