MOVING accounts of the care system, from the people who experience it firsthand, were given at a major conference in central Bradford.

Age UK Bradford and District hosted the event at the Bradford Hotel, with prominent speakers coming from all over the country to take part.

The main theme was the importance of tailoring care for the elderly, to allow each person to live his or her life to the fullest.

The challenge of getting different organisations to work better together was discussed, as was the importance of building systems which reflected the fact that each elderly person was an individual with a range of skills, interests and preferences.

Mark Rounding, chief executive of Age UK Bradford and District, said: “We so often see the problem, the label, the stereotype. Working at Age UK, like many of you, we see on a daily basis the vast experiences, skills and knowledge that people who come to us have. These don’t stop at some arbitrary birthday.”

One of the projects being featured was the Complex Care Team, which began in the Bradford district in April last year and helps co-ordinate the medical and emotional support for adults living with multiple conditions, many of them elderly.

The project brings together medical and care experts from Age UK Bradford and District, Carers Resource, Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, Bradford District Care Trust, Yordales Health and Bradford Council and puts together individual packages of support for each person.

Each member of the cohort is assigned their own ‘navigator’ to co-ordinate their care.

In one video played to the audience, service user Janice Bond described how the team had lifted her spirits, given her a voice and helped her to once again ride a horse - something she hadn’t been able to do for four years.

She called one member of staff, who had been her main point of contact, her “angel”.

She said: “They’ve just brought back life into me. I was a dry husk before the Complex Care Team came along and they’ve just brought back into me all the things I thought I would never see or do again.

“My angel has done so much for me.”

Waine Pybus, of Age UK, is a personal support navigator with the team.

He said of their cohort of more than 200 people, only five had ended up in long-term care.

He said: “The vast majority could be in long-term care now, but they have managed to stay in their own homes, which is what we are all about.”

They had saved the NHS more than £2,500 per person by avoiding hospital admissions, but he said cost-savings had been a side-effect rather than the main driver.

The project is now hoping to expand and is in the process of taking on an occupational therapist, psychology assistant and therapy assistant to add to the team, which already includes psychologists, physiotherapists and GPs.

Annette Jackson, a volunteer with the Alzheimer’s Society in East Yorkshire, also gave a moving account of her work with John Jones, a golf lover who has dementia.

As a fellow fan of the sport, she arranged to take him on regular golfing trips - an arrangement which has even seen her handicap improve.

Pan Creaven, national director of services for Age UK, said care centred on individual people was “not rocket science”, describing it as a basic human right.

Bev Maybury, strategic director of health and wellbeing at Bradford Council, spoke about the authority’s aim of looking beyond the five traditional services, of daycare, homecare, residential care, respite care and nursing care, to see how people might else be supported.

She said: “I can’t support 8,500 people in Bradford with five things. It’s got to be personalised.”

The event was open to the public and in a question-and-answer segment, people raised a host of issues, from Government cuts to the difficulties faced by people who wanted to book single rooms for holidays.