Innovation Exchange

Link Up


Key activities

Benefits and impacts


West Dunbartonshire LinkUp ensures older people have access to a range of community health, social care and third sector services through a single point of access. This service was developed in response to feedback from older people and their carers; and specifically to the Reshaping Care for Older people programme.


LinkUp ensures older people have access to the right support at the right time. Older people, carers and local services are working jointly to help older people maintain their independence by ensuring that local residents quickly and effectively make contact with, and are referred to, the services they need.


Theme: Partnership and Collaboration

Following an extensive consultation and engagement with older people and their families and carers, we recognised the need to better advertise and promote our services, with the aim to support older people to live independently in their own homes when possible, reducing the need for admission to hospital and care homes.


Our community told us that two key questions required answering:

  • What support is available to older people and their carers?
  • How can older people, their families and carers access this support?


Working together we aimed to find a solution that was useful and effective to people, West Dunbartonshire’s Council for Voluntary Service (CVS) and Health Social and Care Partnership (HSCP),  along with key local partners including Carers of West Dunbartonshire, Lomond and Argyle Clyde Care and Repair, and Shop-Mobility.


The Link Up Initiative aims to get all agencies working well and efficiently together, making it easy for people to get the services they need easily and quickly, answering the questions posed by older people and their carers. Each organisation from the Council to Clydebank Older People’s Forum is integral to the success of the planning and delivery of Link Up; each has committed time and expertise from their field as well as a strong ethos of community participation to ensure delivery and sustainability of LinkUp.


The key objectives of Link Up are to ensure older people and their families:

• have easy access to information that will support them to make informed decisions about their own future

• feel more secure; more cared for, and have access to a better quality of life

• have better access assistance that helps them remain in their own homes

• feel part of a supportive community that understands their needs

• have the opportunity to both influence and participate in future service provision.


LinkUp promotes the independence of the volunteers who remain active and participating in their communities; and for more vulnerable older people who require support, they are able to more quickly access services and are more likely to receive the service that they need at the first time of asking.


All the volunteers, who are older people themselves, have participated in a robust training programme delivered by the CVS and the HSCP to support knowledge and awareness of all the supports and services available within communities. Developing a local intelligence and communication network based on factual information; avoiding community tendency for rumour and hearsay.


A robust Communication Plan was developed and continues to ensure that Link Up is widely promoted through a range of statutory, non-statutory and commercial outlets including GP surgeries, voluntary organisations, local shops, Post Office and supermarkets as well as through existing older people’s fora and community projects through the volunteers themselves. The plan is supported by a range of awareness raising training sessions which continue to be delivered to staff and volunteers. The service is also in line with the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Investors in Volunteering Policy.

The most striking impact of Link Up is the increased number of service users, befriending matches and inter-agency referrals who have accessed Link Up, without the need for increased resources.

Additional benefits include the changed relationships between the HSCP and third sector service providers, with providers being more likely to refer people to other services for additional support from third sector partners due to an increased confidence of expectation. So far, there has been an increased level of annual cross referral between the third sector organisations involved, having increased from 10% to 34% since Link Up was established. This means that the right interventions are being better delivered, more effectively.


Success relies on local services communicating well, trusting and championing each other. Volunteers are crucial to this. Local older people are then more able to self-manage and live healthily and independently at home.


Evaluation tells us that during 2015/16 there were

  • Energy scheme enquiries/referrals – 72

  • Benefit enquiries/referrals – 90

  • Mobility/aids enquiries – 35

  • Housing repairs/issues – 47

  • Older volunteering enquiries – 83

  • Link up contacts – 402

The biggest challenge was to make accessing a wide range of services simpler for older people looking for help and support. We built up trust between the organisations involved, took a step back to look at the whole picture across West Dunbartonshire, and encouraged people to work together. The result was a single structure and clear pathway to health, social care and third sector services - Link Up.


The Third Sector Interface, led by WDCVS, is a vital and dynamic part of the success of Link Up. The commitments within the HSCP Integrated Commissioning Strategy for Older People’s Services are embodied in the service and reflect the partnership’s commitment to co-production, with older people supporting older people to self-manage. Link Up is an important part of our Older People’s Change Plan to reduce the risk of unnecessary hospital admissions by ensuring that older people and their carers gain access to the right level of service, from the right provider when they most need it.


This is a community and older people led provision, supported by HSCP and facilitated through CVS. It relies on the trust and confidence of older people as volunteers; whose existing community contacts and expertise have been harnessed to create a community wide web of intelligence and knowledge on the range and type of supports available across West Dunbartonshire.


At its core, this example of innovative, sector leading practice sees an integrated Health and Social Care Partnership working in a practical partnership with the Third Sector Interface to deliver increased community capacity and client centred care without significant financial resources.


This forward thinking solution to a well-known problem, results in significantly more people receiving advice and support, increased communication between agencies and enhanced community capacity, increasing self-management and independence across our older people population. It is due to the dedication and commitment of the staff and volunteers involved that this has proven to be such a success.

Contact details:

To find out more about this case study, please contact:


Heather Irving

Improvement Lead

West Dunbartonshire HSCP

01389 776866




Selina Ross

Chief Officer WDCVS

West Dunbartonshire WDCVS

0141 941 0886

Case study added to site: June 2016

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