Health and social care services in Aberdeen are delivering good outcomes for many older people, but improvements are also needed in key areas.

That is the view of inspectors following a joint inspection of services for older people across the Aberdeen City Health and Social Care Partnership.

The inspection was carried out between November 2015 and February 2016 by the Care Inspectorate and Healthcare Improvement Scotland.

It looked at how well health and social work services for older people in Aberdeen City worked together to deliver good outcomes for older people and their carers.

Inspectors noted that the inspection took place at a time of considerable reform of health and social care services and the establishment of the Aberdeen City Health and Social Care Partnership. The report identifies areas of good practice but also made eight recommendations for improvement.

Across the nine key indicators of performance, inspectors found the impact on the community to be very good, recognising the work of the wellbeing team to encourage older people to lead active and healthy lives. Two indicators were evaluated as good, five were found to be adequate, but the delivery of key processes was weak.

Inspectors noted that the partnership delivered positive outcomes for many older people and their carers and was working to provide a range of services to prevent avoidable admission to hospital.

They added that although there were some recent signs of improved performance, too many older people still experienced a delay in their discharge from hospital.

During the course of the inspection, inspectors identified a significant concern over adult support and protection referrals which left some older people at significant risk of harm over a protracted period. In light of this, inspectors noted that the Aberdeen partnership worked with them to undertake an immediate review of adult support and protection referrals to improve the safety and well-being of older people.

Karen Reid, chief executive of the Care Inspectorate said: “Overall, the Aberdeen City Health and Social Care Partnership delivered good outcomes for many older people. The partnership’s efforts to enhance people’s wellbeing has helped many older people to lead healthier lives and be more involved in their local community.

“We recognise that this inspection was carried out during a time of transition for the partnership, and we saw evidence that partners were on target to have a strategic plan and budgets in place to improve on the areas highlighted in this report.

“This report clearly lays out areas of progress and areas which still require improvement so that services provided to older people across Aberdeen are of the high standard which they have a right to expect.

"We were pleased to see that leaders had a shared vision for older people’s services and were involving staff, local communities and others to ensure this is realised. Establishing an effective management structure will be essential to take forward new ways of working and deliver better outcomes for people who use services.

“The partnership was working very well with the community to encourage healthy ageing across the city and to help people take more control over their own care.

“Most people were satisfied with the quality of services they personally experienced, especially the support provided when individuals were diagnosed with dementia.

“The partnership now needs to focus on improving access to key services such as respite and day services so that all older people and their families who need support get it without delay.”

Robbie Pearson, Acting Chief Executive of Healthcare Improvement Scotland, said: "Our joint inspection involved meeting over 100 older people and their carers, and around 300 staff from health and social work services, the third and independent sectors, helping us to build a good understanding of the quality of health and care services in Aberdeen City.

"The inspection took place during a time of significant reform of health and social care services, including the creation of Aberdeen City Health and Social Care Partnership. The older people and carers that we met were, in the main, satisfied with the quality of the support and care they received. They greatly appreciated and praised the support offered following a diagnosis of dementia, although access to this service was sometimes delayed. Too many older people still experienced a delay in their discharge from hospital, yet there were some recent signs of improved performance and care at home provision was also a significant challenge for the partnership. Despite difficulties in recruiting in some areas, we found that staff were working effectively to deliver good outcomes.

“Significantly fewer older people were being admitted to hospital on an emergency basis, compared to the Scottish average. Also, a more cohesive approach to planning and delivering services was beginning to be achieved through multi-agency working.

“The partnership’s approach to the design and delivery of care for older people had a clear focus on maintaining their independence, good health and wellbeing. There was also a strong message from the partnership that educating and supporting communities as partners in managing health and care needs was important in order to improve wellbeing and reduce the impact of ill health. The partnership’s strong commitment to promoting healthy active ageing was also evident.”

The report is available here: