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Age Ageing. 2007 Sep;36(5):501-7. Epub 2007 Jul 23.

Four years on: the impact of the National Service Framework for Older People on the experiences, expectations and views of older people.

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King's College London, Strand, London WC2B 4LL, UK.



Evaluation of the impact of the National Service Framework for Older People (NSFOP) on the experiences and expectations of older people, 4 years into its 10 year programme.


the NSFOP is a comprehensive strategy designed to promote fair, high quality, integrated health and social care services for older people in England. It emphasises (i) the need for services to support independence and promote health, (ii) the specialisation of services for key conditions (stroke, falls and mental illness) and (iii) advocates a cultural change in services so that the older people and their carers are treated with respect, dignity and fairness. It has a 10-year timetable for implementation, starting in 2001.


A mixed methods approach to evaluation was taken in ten purposively selected localities in England. A portfolio of methods (listening events, nominal groups and interviews) was used with older people and carers to focus on processes as well as on outcomes and to allow for the possibility of conflicting or differing judgements about service quality.


One thousand eight hundred and thirty-nine people participated in public listening events, 1,639 took part in nominal groups and 120 were interviewed individually. The existence of the NSFOP was not widely known beyond the NSFOP local implementation teams and voluntary sector activists. Many, but not all older people, identified themselves as members of a group that was subject to age prejudice that altered the quality and standard of their care. This identity included a role as carer for others, but there was less emphasis on the rights of older people. Positive changes in primary care services were offset by difficulties in accessing general practice and a sense that services were becoming impersonal. The quality of social care at home varied from sensitive and personal to fragmentary, hurried and impersonal. Hospitals treatment was perceived as improved in speed and quality in most places, but hospitals were also seen as risky and insufficiently caring, with discharge sometimes being unprepared, over-zealous and disorganised.


If asked, older people do not perceive improvements as the result of a NSFOP, but nonetheless they do perceive improvements in systems. It is difficult to attribute any of the changes in experiences that we identified to the NSFOP itself, but we can see that other change processes run contrary to some aspects of the NSFOP whilst some trends are congruent with the aspirations of the NSFOP. Government initiatives face the difficulty of distinguishing experiences that may be attributable to multiple causes. They are influenced nonetheless by the outcome of public consultation since these provide relatively rapid means of feedback and commentary by citizens and regulators on the performance of services.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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