Dr. Bill Thomas is currently traveling through Europe visiting partners in the Eden International community and also reaching out to long term care officials and advocates across the continent.
As we can all read in the news, Bill has been seeing firsthand how the economic downturn and Euro-Zone debt crisis is having a big impact on social services across Europe, forcing advocates to fight to preserve services to vulnerable populations.
The austerity also makes it clear that innovation and culture are more important than ever in helping improve the lives of Europe’s growing aging population, which far outpaces the U.S. in size and growth.
Bill met advocates from one organization in the UK who are working hard to create community and home-based networks to help meet the needs of elders and he asked me to share their blog — SharedLivesPlus — on ChangingAging.
SharedLivesPlus is a UK network of more than 10,000 family-based and small-scale programs and enterprises for supporting adults. Their mission is to create stronger and more inclusive communities which value everyone’s right to contribute.
What’s cool about the network is its designed to help ordinary people set up micro-enterprises which meet the needs of a local individual or small group. Some enterprises are set up by front line workers previously based in large organisations but others are set up by disabled or older people themselves (AWESOME).
The SharedLivesPlus has a new blog run by CEO Alex Fox and it features great posts on community-based innovation and advocacy. Here’s a great comment he blogged from the former president of the UK”s Association of Directors of Adult Social Services:
“There’s a notion around that we can do more for less, but trying to do more and more of the same for less and less money only gets you so far. We are learning three things. Firstly, that we must move away from the idea that all we need to do is offer a service. People don’t want services, they want to live a life, to be active citizens, to have a job or education, to give something back. Secondly, most social care is provided by families and communities, not the state, so its crucial that services work with those networks. Thirdly, that agencies, particularly health and social care but also many others, need to work together much, much better.”
I’ve added the SharedLivesPlus blog to the ChangingAging Blogstream so look for updates from this great organization from across The Pond.