Pioneering health project for older people to be trialled in Felixstowe

Nope - I'm not doing happy old people exercise. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The ICOPE project aims to help older people live healthier lives - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Felixstowe is to be the first place in the country to pilot a groundbreaking new scheme aimed at helping older people live better and healthier lives. 

The Suffolk coastal town has been chosen as the UK demonstrator site for the Integrated Care for Older People (ICOPE) project. 

ICOPE focuses on six associated health problems – vision, hearing, mobility, cognition, depression and nutrition.

It also addresses where support could help in six areas of social need - daily living, social participation, loneliness, violence against older people, living accommodation and finances. 

Felixstowe will be the first place in the UK to trial the approach, with two other areas of Suffolk – Hadleigh and Ipswich West – following shortly after.

East Suffolk Council is seeking a risk assessment to see if dredging will lower beach levels at Feli

Felixstowe is to be the first place in the country for the project to be trialled - Credit: Archant

The initiative is based on 30 years of research across 50 countries into the issues that matter to older people by Professor Ian Philip. 

His findings revealed that two thirds of the things they said were important to them were not being addressed.

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This prompted the World Health Organisation (WHO) to launch a global programme aimed at engaging with older people to establish what they need to live better, healthier lives and connect them to local sources of support. 

Dr Mark Shenton, chairman of the Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG governing body. Picture: PAGEPIX

Mark Shenton, from the University of Suffolk, said he was "really excited" by the news - Credit: Archant

Mark Shenton, professor of integrated care at the University of Suffolk Integrated Care Academy (UoS ICA), and chair of the NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, will chair the ICOPE project board. 

“I’m really excited that Felixstowe has been chosen as the first place in the country to pilot the ICOPE project," he said. 

“This is all about engaging with older people to find out what their issues and needs are, rather than assuming what they are, in order that we can address them properly. 

“The WHO research showed that older people usually need help with just one or two things to make a big difference to their health, independence and quality of life. 

“A unique feature of this project is that as well as assessing the needs of older people we will also be identifying their family carers to offer them an assessment of their own needs through our partnership with Suffolk Family Carers.” 

ICOPE, which will eventually be rolled out across the rest of Suffolk and north east Essex, will be evaluated by the UoS ICA. 

The ICOPE team wants to engage with older people in Felixstowe, Hadleigh and Ipswich West to find out what matters to them. 

They are holding a drop-in session at Felixstowe Town Hall on Wednesday, February 16, from 3.30pm to 4.45pm to which older people from the town and their carers are invited. 

Older people in Hadleigh are also invited to give their views when the team visits the town’s Abbeycroft Leisure Centre the following day - Thursday, Feb 17 - between noon and 2pm. 

Hadleigh High Street. According to a new study, Babergh is the second happiest place to live in the

The project will also be trialled in Hadleigh, pictured, and Ipswich West

News of the project comes as over 70s are being urged to do at least 20 minutes of exercise a day to help their heart health. 

Experts said that it is "better late than never, but better early than late" to start exercise after a new study found that people can ward off severe heart disease by performing at least 20 minutes exercise a day in later life.

But the benefits were more apparent among those in their early 70s comparted to those in their late 70s and beyond.

The study, published in the journal Heart, tracked more than 3,000 Italian adults over the age of 65 for more than 20 years.

Italian researchers tracked heart disease - including heart failure, stroke and coronary heart disease - among the participants and also monitored their physical activity levels.

Overall, physical activity was associated with lower rates of cardiovascular diseases.

But after further analysis, the authors found that at least 20 minutes of exercise every day among people aged 70 to 75 seemed to provide the greatest benefits.

The protective benefit seemed to reduce as people aged which "suggests greater cardiovascular benefits might be achieved by improving physical activity earlier in late life," the team of Italian researchers said.

More information about being healthier can be found on One Life Suffolk's website here