Published by Rt Hon Andy Burnham MP on 3 December 2014
- Our Work
- The Reformer Blog
5 January 2015
As the pressure on A&E departments continues to make headlines over the Christmas period, the urgency with which new innovations are needed is becoming increasingly evident. A&E admittance is an expensive and often inappropriate way to meet the growing and changing needs of an ageing population. Yet without greater support in the community, the number of elderly patients visiting A&E is likely to rise further still.
One innovation that I have pioneered in Jersey offers a better way to look after our rapidly ageing population whose health and care needs are starting to overwhelm the island’s health, social and voluntary services. The innovation does not require large scale reorganisation of services. It just needs us to rethink how we interact with one another in the community.
Elsie (aged 81 years) has lived alone for over 5 years, Norma (aged 72 years) has lived alone for seven years and George (aged 78 years) has lived alone for most of his adult life. So what do these three people, along with many others, have in common? The answer is that they all have a visit from their postman, Ricky, two or three times a week to check how they are and if they are in need of any help, be it medical or social. This service is called “Call & Check” and was developed by Jersey Post.
Call & Check is a simple concept which involves postmen and women calling on elderly islanders during their regular postal round. The visits from Jersey Post can be daily, weekly, or as agreed with the customer. During a visit, the postal worker will knock on the customer’s door and have a brief chat, asking how they are and whether they have any immediate concerns or requests. If the customer has any requests, the information will be passed on to one of the appropriate partner organisations for action, such as their GP for medical attention, or the parish or a voluntary service for issues such as help with groceries, companionship, contact with tradespeople or a relative. The postal worker can also deliver repeat prescriptions and remind the customer about medication or hospital appointments.
Call & Check is the first community service to make use of the infrastructure within a postal operator. As the last remaining service with the ability to visit every house in Jersey every day, the post service has the potential to take an even greater role in supporting their communities.
This is as important for the future of the postal service as for the NHS. Almost every postal operator around the world has seen their letter post steadily reduce over the past five years due to the use of emails and social media. Unless postal operators evolve their services and make more use of their postmen and women, they will disappear from our streets and be replaced by people in vans delivering boxes or automated lockers where people go to collect boxes. This would be a great loss to our communities; once the postman or woman are gone they will never return.
As the Call & Check service had never been tried anywhere else it was important to have a proof of concept. We selected areas of Jersey with a representative demographic and developed a Call & Check pilot to test two basic elements of the service
The answer to both these question was a resounding “yes”. Jersey Post have now extended the service to other parts of the island and hope to go island-wide in 2015. The pilot also gave us the knowledge to design an app to run the Call & Check service. This app would certainly be required to scale-up, manage and monitor large customer numbers.
As Call & Check continues to expand its service across the island, Jersey Post was encouraged to receive comments from its customers:
“It makes me feel so much better knowing that I get my postie’s friendly call to check on me three times a week.” Amy, 82 years of age, living alone
“I am an independent person but I look forward to my Call & Check.” Derek, 90 years of age, living alone
“Thank you for Call & Check and sorting out for my shopping to be delivered to my home, it makes life a lot easier.” Alice, living alone
“Knowing my mum gets checked on every day during the week takes some of the pressure off my wife and I, and gives us additional peace of mind.” Mike, whose mother lives alone
“The Call & Check service gives my mother and I a real feeling of reassurance knowing a regular check is being made.” Danielle, whose mother lives alone
The Call & Check service could well become a core element of a new, more cost-effective health and social care service in Jersey. By better coordinating care, reducing pressure on traditional services and potentially creating new revenue streams for the postal service, Call & Check could deliver a “triple win”.
For these reasons, Call & Check has the potential to be adopted in other countries and across other demographics. The service could be appropriate for a wide range of customers, including carers, recently bereaved or lonely people, and those recently discharged from hospital. More immediately, it offers part of a better and more affordable solution to meeting the needs of a growing elderly population.
Joe Dickinson, Jersey Post “Call & Check” inventor