Chloe Carter is Health & Social Care Policy  and Advocacy Lead at British Red Cross

All blogs are the views of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Independent Age.

More of us envisage losing our independence to be the biggest crisis we will face in our personal lives than anything else. Being unable to cope alone is as much a concern to people aged 16 to 24 as it is to people aged 55 and over.[1]

There is a wealth of evidence – including from British Red Cross services – that preventing the crisis of lost independence is not only a better result for people and their families,[2] but it also saves money for the public purse.

Preventing the loss of independence matters to all of us. It’s because of this that the Care Bill – imminently due to become law – should also matter to all of us.

The Care Bill places new duties on councils: it makes it clear that providing preventative services can no longer be viewed as discretionary.

Most commissioning leads within councils and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) want to invest in preventative services.

Yet many councillors – those with much of the responsibility for local resource allocation – have said that they are actually freezing, or even cutting, funding for preventative services.[3]

Councils have tough decisions to take about their local priorities and their resource allocation, but the Care Bill makes it clear that from April 2015 they must ensure preventative services are available locally.

The Bill gives us all a fresh impetus to really make prevention happen.

There are things that councils can be doing now to prepare for April 2015.

These include ensuring that preventing, reducing and delaying needs for care and support are incorporated into their Joint Strategic Needs Assessments and their joint health and wellbeing strategies. As at last September only around a third had yet achieved this.[4]

Councils can also follow the lead of Camden, where departments have been brought together to have a conversation about prevention. They have managed to gain consensus about what prevention means in their local authority area and what outcomes they are aiming to achieve through their investment in preventative services. A toolkit is available to help other councils do the same.

We all have a part to play in making sure the Care Bill results in better prevention. The Care Bill makes it clear that prevention matters to councils. Let’s now make sure that councils know prevention matters to everyone.

Chloё Carter is the lead for health and social care advocacy at the British Red Cross and can be found on Twitter @chl0ecarter.

The British Red Cross helps people deal with emergencies, disasters and conflicts. We provide support at home, transport and mobility aids to help people when they face a crisis in their daily lives. We refuse to ignore people in crisis.

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[1] Research carried out by Opinion Matters across the UK to assess peoples' attitudes to crisis. 23rd December 2013 to 2nd January 2014 on a balanced sample of 2,041 adults.

[2] 'Exploring the difference made by Support at Home', carried out by the British Red Cross in 2013, coming shortly to our website.

[3] Research for the British Red Cross carried out by Dods in September 2013 on a balanced sample of 442 councillors with an active interest in health and social care.

[4] British Red Cross review of 112 joint health and wellbeing strategies:https://www.theguardian.com/partner-zone-ageing-population/what-does-prevention-mean

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