OXFORDSHIRE’S elderly population will receive extra help and support in a bid to tackle the county’s bed-blocking crisis.

Age UK Oxfordshire has been given £225,000 by the Government and county NHS to run a new project called Circles of Support.

The money will be spent on nine new job roles and to find volunteers to help the elderly find out what services are available to them.

The county has a high rate of bed blocking, where a patient is well enough to leave hospital but cannot because community support is not available.

Oxfordshire was ranked the worst in England for this in 2013/14 but NHS bosses have said the problem is easing.

Age UK Oxfordshire chief executive Paul Cann said: “We are thrilled to have been selected amidst tough competition for a substantial grant from central Government.

“It is of huge concern that we allow our older people to decline physically and mentally, and to get stuck in the care system without all the help they need to live life their way. We want to create ‘circles of support’ in the community that will give them confidence, understanding and motivation to live independently.”

The project was one of just eight out of 160 applications to win a grant from the Government’s reducing winter pressures fund.

Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, which makes county NHS funding decisions, has put in £45,000.

Its assistant director for older people Fenella Trevillion said: “We are delighted that Age UK has been successful in its bid for the Circles of Support project.

“It will support more people at home in new and different ways using the many and able volunteers in Oxfordshire.

“The project will additionally help older people in hospital navigate through the information available and get the right support quickly so they can get home as soon as possible.”

Minister for civil society Brooks Newmark said: “I am pleased to announce the winners of these exciting new funds.

“Taken together, we believe that these projects will showcase the potential of social action to reduce hospital pressures and improve patient experience, and will be sustained into the long-term by local commissioners.”

A snapshot survey in June found 119 county hospital patients were well enough to go home. Of these, 41 were waiting for support at home.

The grant comes after the Oxford Mail reported last month that NHS England cash to ease pressure on county health and social services this winter is being slashed from £10.2m to about £4m.

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