2016 GSK IMPACT Awards: Age UK South Lakeland

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Part of GSK IMPACT Awards

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  • Posted:Thursday 12 May 2016

A Cumbria-based organisation that works with local older people to help them retain independence and exercise real choice in their lives.

Age UK South Lakeland developed a client risk assessment tool, highlighting areas that may be placing clients at risk of decline towards crisis. Action plans are then agreed and intensive support provided in the community and at GP surgeries. The charity also works with over 26 local partners, provides services across a large rural area and generates 63 per cent of its income.

What the judges said:

An impressive organisation with a clear understanding of the needs of older people in its community. The Compass Assessment Tool ensures its services provide the most effective support. It is a charity that has continued to innovate and demonstrate the effectiveness of its work.


We’ve been in existence nearly 40 years and our whole purpose is to make life better for older people in South Lakeland.

South Lakeland has huge challenges in terms of it’s a very large geographical patch. If an older person living ten or 15 miles away from a main centre actually to come into the office here in Kendal is actually very problematic.

We have quite a lot of challenges. We have an older than average population so we have about 24% of people who are over 65. We have old housing stock so keeping warm is a challenge.

There’s a perception that South Lakeland is a wealthy area and yes we have some wonderful parts, we have some wonderful houses, but we have a lot of people who are struggling. We try and make sure if somebody needs a home visit they get a home visit.

I’ve called the doctor and it was she who put me onto Age UK because I couldn’t walk the dog. My legs had all swollen and that was how it started.

This has been constantly presented at the GP surgery having problems with the knee following a fall. I then asked her a few questions and try and complete the holistic assessment that I use which is the Compass Research to see whether that would highlight any other risks she had.

It made a great difference, I’ve lived to be 90 and nobody’s eve helped me in that way before because I’ve been too proud to ask for it you see.

Our GP colleagues will do an assessment but they’ll do an assessment purely based on all the clinical issues. All of these factors need to considered to develop the right range of intervention.

The innovative compass assessment tool from AQK South Lakeland is a great initiative harnessing the power of social action to help reduce pressures on our health services and improve the wellbeing of vulnerable older people is definitely worth promoting and supporting.

We use a Compass Assessment when we see clients for the first time, it’s a very holistic questionnaire taking in accounts of their health, financial situation and social lives.

By having a Compass officer based in a GP surgery we are getting to the patients before they reach crisis. We are training the GPs to understand what the third sector can do.

We generate about 63% of our income. We felt that it was very important that we became as independent as possible.

So we have just opened our first superstore. It’s just a whole different experience and there’s a buzz about the place, and watch this space we have another one coming.

They appreciate that they’re not the only organisation locally who can support their client group so they’ve worked very hard to bring other voluntary sector groups together through the e-hub and their local gateway. They recognise that particularly for health staff and GPs in particular actually they can't possibly know the full range of what might be available to an individual person.

We’re a transformational organisation, we’re not scared of innovation, we embrace it. As soon as somebody says, “We’ve done it like this all the time” we’ll challenge that.

I feel at home with them, as though I can say anything and ask anything and that’s lovely.

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