Ambitions for Later Life
The Ambitions for Later life programme provided holistic and person-centred information and advice to people experiencing life events, and supported them to achieve their ambitions.
What was Ambitions for Later Life?
Our Ambitions for Later Life programme offered person-centred and holistic information and advice sessions for people generally of State Pension age or older. The programme specifically targeted the needs of older people who were experiencing a significant life event or coping with a life change by providing one‑to-one advice sessions, often in the older person’s home.
Examples of life events or changes include bereavement, a relationship breakdown, health problems, having a fall, becoming a carer, changes in housing needs or dealing with debt.
Following the initial advice and support provided, the adviser would work with the older person to help them identify what they would like to achieve following the transition point in their lives and how this may be achieved.
Take a look at our film below to hear the stories of 5 people that Age UK Sheffield supported through the programme. It illustrates some of the life events that people come to us with, the kind of support we can give and the clear difference that support makes to their lives.
Where did the programme run?
11 local Age UKs across England and our national advice line were involved in delivering Ambitions for Later Life:
What impact did Ambitions for Later Life have on older people?
By the end of its original three-year run, from June 2016 until the end of May 2019, we supported 7,963 older people through their life events, and with the ambitions or goals that they wanted to achieve. As part of this work, we identified £13.6m in unclaimed benefits. For the older people this applied to, it meant an average amount of £3,996.52 extra a year in their pockets.
“I feel better now. I’m not worrying as things are sorted out. It has taken a lot of pressure off me.”
The holistic and person-centred approach of the programme can involve a great deal of work by our advisers and the extent of the support they can give is a pleasant surprise to many of the older people supported.
“Thank you for sending [Age UK adviser] to visit as she was a force of nature (in a very good way), an amazing person who exceeded our expectations by miles. She was very observant and noticed all of the problems that my Mum has and came up with solutions. Not only that but she genuinely seemed interested and to care. We so need people like [Age UK adviser]. My Mum… picked up on [Age UK adviser’s] care and kindness. Many, many thanks for your help.”
With the exception of our national advice line, all of the sites involved in the project delivered their advice sessions in person. Often, Age UKs could offer a visit to the older person’s home, making the support easier to access, especially for vulnerable clients, people with mobility issues, poor transport links or who live far away from an office. These home visits also have advantages for advisers as they can better understand someone’s situation and older people feel more comfortable about opening up about their lives in their own home.
Demystifying and helping older people navigate often complex benefits and care systems came up time and again in the programme. 98 per cent of people surveyed about Ambitions for Later Life found the information and advice they were given useful and an identical percentage found it easy to understand.
We commissioned an independent evaluator, Wavehill, to evaluate the project. Their report looks at:
- the impact on older people of experiencing the approach in the programme;
- how useful or not the toolkit was for local Age UKs;
- the lessons learned for Age UKs in implementing the programme; and
- did the programme meet its objective: did it allow an Age UK to take the time to fully understand a person’s situation and provide tailored information and advice for the person based on their individual needs at times of life transition?
Download the report
What’s next for this type of programme?
The value of this type of programme is clear from the evaluation report, so we will look to develop and run similar programmes in the future – particularly ones which offer a high level of home visits, as these are crucial to understanding a person’s situation, necessary for older people who would find it difficult to make it to an Age UK office and important to vulnerable clients. To run such programmes, however, we urgently need more funding.