Wise Guide - Independent Age

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Project description

Wise Guides are short A5 books of 70-100 pages providing information in a friendly and accessible form. They are intended as an 'entry-level' guide, providing an overview of services, benefits and information resources available to older people.
Our first Wise Guide ('WG1') was produced in 2011 and we have now distributed around 15,000 copies.

An online version with all text is available (link below). During 2013 it will be updated, reprinted and joined by three additional Wise Guides:

  • WG2: Extra help at home: essential advice for over-65s who want to stay independent (available from April 2013)
  • WG3: Healthy, happy, connected: staying in touch and combating loneliness for the over 65s (available from May 2013)
  • WG4: Choosing and using a care home (available from Autumn 2013).

Who is the service for?

Older people and their families and carers.

Intended outcomes

To provide free, easy-to-read printed information about benefits, care services and other issues affecting older people and their families.

Why is the service being developed?

Our experience providing direct advice to older people suggested there was a need for an easy-to-read printed source of practical advice and information on the key issues facing older people. We think print is important because most of the older people to whom we provide regular services contact us by letter - we get around 200 a month. Many older people still do not access web services and are most comfortable with a printed publication. However because printed products are expensive to produce and distribute, many organisations have turned away from them.

Were people who use services and carers and other key stakeholders involved in setting up this service?

Yes - we used practical tips, advice and case studies from older people to whom we have provided services.

Has the service met the intended outcomes?

Yes. The following are the headline results from an initial feedback survey of around 60 Wise Guide users:

  • 82% said it was very easy to understand (11% said it was quite easy)
  • 94% liked the design
  • 55% found it very useful (42% found it quite useful)
  • 84% agreed strongly that they would recommend the Wise Guide to friends (16% agreed somewhat)
  • 72% agreed strongly that they preferred a printed copy of the Wise Guide (26% agreed somewhat)
  • 42% said they had already used information in the Wise Guide to claim an entitlement, find a service or gain some other benefit.

Do you have information on costs or savings?

It costs around 67p for each copy, plus a further 75p to post

What were the learning points in setting up this service?

It took us longer to produce the text for the Wise Guide than planned, and it went through more drafts than expected. A robust editing process involving drafts and rewriting was more fundamental and time-consuming than expected.

Base content on evidence from service users and advice staff, recruit the best writers/editors possible and allow plenty of time to make the text good. Build feedback and evaluation into the project from the start.

Work on audiences and distribution channels. Currently many of the Wise Guides are being ordered by workers in charities, housing associations etc to help them give advice to their clients. While this is obviously valuable, we realise we need to look at how we can put the Wise Guide directly into the hands of older people themselves.

Contact details

Simon Bottery
Director of Policy and Communications, Independent Age
Email: simon.bottery@independentage.org.uk
Phone: 020 7605 4282