RESIDENTS in Morpeth will now be able to get more information from their local library as the first of five new Social Care and Health Information Points is open for business.
The information points were opened on Monday with local resident Lillian Nelson and her son Ian, while several organisations showed their support by offering people the opportunity to have their blood pressure checked, or look at the range of support equipment available from the Telecare service.
Age UK, The Red Cross and Northumberland County Blind Association were on hand to give advice on entitlements and benefits.
The information points have been developed in partnership with Northumberland County Council and Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust as part of a pilot to improve access to information to council services and advice about sources of support which can assist Northumberland adults remain living independently in their own homes.
Mr Nelson, who has Downs Syndrome, has been helped by a support planner to get involved in activities in the Morpeth Community.
He now works in the British Heart foundation charity shop, plays football for his local team and feels part of his community.
Mum Lillian, who is also his carer, said: “I am sure that this information point will prove to be a great asset to the town. Information provision is the single most important factor for disabled people as they are not always able to go from provider to provider and need to feel in control of their lives.
“I know first-hand how important it is for people to be as independent as possible. My son enjoys being part of the town and doing various activities.
“When we first moved into Morpeth, some years ago, we had to go to a range of different sources to find support groups and activities that Ian could become involved in.
“Ian paid for a support worker from his personal budget to help him become involved in the town. He is now enjoying being fully integrated to a point when he does not require this support.
“People are not always confident in asking for advice and support. This service is offering information in one point of contact in a friendly, non-threatening way which I am sure local people will appreciate.”
A broad range of information will be provided within the Social Care and Health Information Points which includes details of support groups in the area; information about trustworthy organisations such as the approved traders scheme, as well as advice and guidance to address common issues associated with disability or long-term illness.
The information points will be open during normal library opening times. Support planners will be on hand two days per week to provide advice, guidance and where relevant, assistance in arranging an assessment of social services support.
“They will also be able to provide information on other health services. Library employees will also be on hand to help with the information provision at times when support planners are not present.
Coun Ian Lindley, executive member for adult care and wellbeing, said: “The council is committed to improving access to services across the county and working in partnership to put information into the heart of the community at convenient times is essential to this.
“I am particularly pleased with the way we are trying to get people integrated into the town and to give them as much choice as we are able, to help them make informed choices.People need to feel part of their community, and have the correct information to make informed choices.”