Care & Repair England awarded £1m to expand Silverlinks

Care & Repair England (C&RE) was able to announce last Saturday that its Silverlinks has been listed as one of the Big Lottery’s Silver Dreams Flagship projects. C&RE will receive £1m over 4 years to expand Silverlinks to other areas across the UK.

Silverlinks connects older people who are facing a dilemma about their housing & care, maybe due to illness or after bereavement, with another older person who has been through a similar situation. Older volunteers are able to share the benefit of their own experience and help the older person to think through their options, providing information and support where needed.

Silverlinks also runs ‘Pass it on’ workshops about housing & care in later life, where older people learn about their options & sources of advice and then pass this information on through friends, family and wider networks. Some older volunteers go out and talk to meetings of older people, such as dementia and carers support groups, about options and what their local Care & Repair services can offer.

Successful Silverlinks pilots are currently being delivered by Care & Repair agencies in Leeds and the West of England (mainly Bristol). The Flagship Grant will mean that Silverlinks can reach out to and support even more older people who are facing housing difficulties.

Sue Adams, CEO of Care & Repair England, said “We are absolutely thrilled to be chosen as a Flagship project by the Silver Dreams Fund. This four year grant will enable us to roll out Silverlinks initiatives in other areas of England, reaching out to thousands more older people who can benefit from support from their peers and gain invaluable information about later life housing and care options.”

An older person who is wondering how they are going to be able to manage in their current home can already ask their local Care & Repair for practical help with repairs & adaptations, and some also have well qualified housing options advisers. Silverlinks adds to the range of help that a local scheme can offer, provides training for older people to enable them to plan ahead and prepare for their future housing and care, and in some cases helps people to move.

Sue Adams concluded “Independent, trusted information is absolutely key to well informed decision making. This funding will help us to train & support many more older people to pass on knowledge about housing and care options, thereby enabling more people to plan ahead for their later life as well as helping those facing a crisis.”

Sheila’s story:
Sheila is a widow who lives alone in Leeds. She is 87, and recently had a fall at home and badly injured her arm and shoulder, and had to spend some time in hospital. She now has great difficulty in bathing and also finds her stairs very difficult to manage. All of this made Sheila begin to wonder whether now was the time to consider moving into sheltered accommodation.

However, Sheila has lived in her home for many years and it holds lots of memories for her. She likes the area she lives in, is involved in a local church and has a daughter who lives nearby, so the thought of having to move seemed overwhelming.

Sheila was put in touch with a Silverlinks volunteer who visited her at home and helped her think through all of her options. Sheila found talking with the volunteer very helpful and appreciated his visit. She said “it was awful to feel all by yourself”, and liked the idea of talking to someone of a similar age who has faced a similar situation. After talking things through and having time to think, Sheila was very relieved to realise that with some adaptations she could stay in her home, her preferred option. She has since had a stair-lift fitted which has made it much easier for her to get around the house, and is now thinking about having her bathroom adapted.