The UK’s “Care Crisis” is a worrying and worsening problem which must be resolved. Our Health & Social Care system can’t meet our ageing population’s complex needs. If the government can’t/won’t invest in wholescale restructuring & resourcing of an integrated care system, then we must reduce the current demand, or meet it differently. At Guideposts, we believe that encouraging, empowering and assisting more people to invest in their own care and wellbeing, will be key. If they do, they will live better, longer happier lives at home – with lower use of State resource. We have an innovative solution, but we require innovative support. The sort of support that a government would eagerly offer to a promising start-up company. Which is in effect what we at Guideposts have become….

You may not know, but Guideposts Trust is a social care & mental health charity with over 40 years’ experience helping people with one or more long-term/degenerative conditions (dementia, sensory impairment, learning/physical disability, etc) to live well with independence and dignity. We know that people do this best when supported to do so within their own homes and own communities. We have innate understanding of the potholed, rutted, patchwork landscape of UK Health & Social Care services and community support.. It’s not a pretty sight, but it’s a familiar one to us and our Information Advice and Guidance (or IAG) Teams –who know it particularly well. Despite “NHS postcode lotteries” and gaps in 3rd Sector cover, we always manage to connect people with the support they need in the right place at the right time.

With 15 million people living with a long-term condition and 6.5 million “unpaid carers” needing support – our IAG Teams have always been innovative in working locally whilst making a difference nationally. They were building local knowledge databases and issuing personalised “Information Prescriptions” via web and telephone advice centres long before most charities were! They complement our on-the-ground social care & therapeutic outputs, by providing confused, tired, worried people around the UK with a trusted single point of contact for their practical, financial and emotional support needs.

Our IAG service is increasingly referred to as “SocialCare Satnav”. Our experts guide people and carers on Life’s Journey – helping them navigate and proactively access the most appropriate services and resources via their most appropriate local network. IAG Teams take the complexity out of caring and help vulnerable people to live well, away from institutions and costly NHS services! They also help stressed carers to stay healthy, positive and functional (at home and at work – because 3.5m are employed and CIPD are worried: CIPD News) by solving the information deluge or drought from automated web services and call centres who can’t cope with what is often complex and deeply personal casework.

Historically, our IAG Teams also operated local government Independent Living & Mobility Centres. Income from those contracts helped enhance charitable IAG outreach & support elsewhere. However, years of austerity have seen “preventative maintenance” services axed as easy short-term savings. Ironically, these small upstream cuts have had the largest downstream impact on our society’s health & wellbeing. Guideposts have long advocated not only retention, but further expansion of these services, to avoid repeated and costly NHS admissions of frail or vulnerable people who were allowed to deteriorate to crisis point.

So what to do? Hard-pressed councils were unable to help. Hard-up and (justifiably) jaded donors seemed unwilling to step in. So upon hearing another round of calls for “new approaches and innovative solutions” from Government mandarins, Guideposts responded by looking at social enterprise and quasi-commercial options. We took loans and released capital from reserves and properties. Our investments transformed our IAG into “HERE” – a unique long-term condition management subscription service – for people and their carers around the UK. Operating on a low-cost membership basis for private individuals, corporate workforces and group license-holders, HERE offers each client bespoke web/call-centre and/or face-to-face consultations and assessments relating to their own or a loved one’s wellbeing. HERE extends our IAG expertise nationwide to let people switch on their Social Care Satnav early. In doing so, they stop being tired and worried and instead make informed choices on Life’s Journey. Moreover, they confidently and willingly invest more of their own money in care and equipment rather than risk waiting for scant statutory support or declining health.

HERE uptake has been promising. We have 1000 private members, we also have a major corporate ally and (deeply ironically) significant interest from clinicians & health groups who want the service for their own staff! We were also recently offered partnership with Millbrook Healthcare, who know what our impartial, person-focused expertise can offer much to their mobility equipment & assistive technology advice & retail centres. The project working title is “Mi-Life HERE.” And these centres can also be extended as pop-up, drop-in and mobile centres in response to public or government need.

So there we have it Health Tsars, mandarins, thought leaders and Ministers. Guideposts has responded & innovated with HERE and Mi-Life HERE. We have created an excellent product with excellent business development and partnering opportunities. We have strong cases too. We have in effect become an innovative start-up company within the healthcare & wellbeing sphere. But like all promising start-ups, we need pump-priming, influential support and operating capital. That’s where you and your contacts come in! Together, we can change the way that society views its Health & Social Care needs and responsibilities. We can get upstream, proactive investment in the nation’s wellbeing, in order to pull us out of the dismal “Care Crisis” spiral. We look forward to hearing from you…. and your budget holders!