CareLink - the story of how it all started and where we are now
Saltbox began to develop its work with older people in 2007 through the CareLink project. CareLink has been delivered in Stoke-on-Trent since then, and the demand and popularity of the service has been overwhelming, mainly due to the identified gap in service provision that it has filled.
Initially Saltbox received grant funding to trial CareLink over a two year period and develop the telephone monitoring and befriending service. Due to the success of the trial, the Big Lottery agreed to fund Saltbox to develop and deliver the CareLink service for a further 3 years. It was recognised by the Lottery that our service filled a distinct gap in current provision. CareLink had the potential to involve the voluntary sector in becoming an integral part of wider local healthcare provision in improving the health of our older people.
During the 3 years of Lottery funding we supported 1551 vulnerable, frail and older people to maintain independent living and healthier lifestyles. This support consisted of over 24,000 monitoring calls per annum delivered with the support of over 30 locally recruited and trained volunteers. Alongside the calls we also made over 560 referrals to other supporting organisations. Many of those receiving the service reported feeling less isolated, and many other positive outcomes were identified for those older people who potentially would have required greater intervention from other professionals.
Due to the success of the service, at the beginning of 2015 we were granted funding through the Stoke-on-Trent CCG, to continue and develop the CareLink service. The funding was based on the health benefits we have identified that our service was enabling older people to achieve. Evidence told us that clients are happier and most importantly healthier. We have found that those receiving the service are better connected to those other agencies that could help them further and are less likely to make unnecessary use of GP and hospital provision. This service directly combats the many damaging effects of loneliness on older people’s health in a highly cost-effective way.
Through this funding we are not only continuing our telephone monitoring and befriending service, but alongside it we are providing extra support to those with greater needs, by liaising with other agencies & organisations, providing information, and offering supported visits and practical support to help them to engage with other services and opportunities.
If you would like to know more about the service or about working with us either as a client, volunteer or partner agency, please do get in touch.