The Veteran Friendly Framework (VFF) has been established to tackle loneliness and isolation, and deliver improved health and wellbeing outcomes for over 25,000 veterans living in care homes across England. It will support the practical, emotional and social needs for the Armed Forces community by providing care homes with resources to assess and improve their offer.
One care home said they were forging links with military groups in the area as a result of the VFF. Lightbowne Hall in Manchester also said the VFF had created bonds among its veteran residents and brought them closer together, while also enabling staff to improve the person-centred care they deliver.
The Framework has been praised by government minister Rt Hon. Johnny Mercer MP and Professor Deborah Sturdy CBE, the Chief Nurse for Adult Social Care in England
The VFF is a two-year collaboration between Armed Forces charities Royal Star & Garter, the Royal British Legion and the NHS Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA – an NHS flagship Armed Forces programme), with funding support from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust. This project, focusing on care homes, follows on from the Veteran Friendly accredited GP scheme run by the Royal College of General Practitioners and the VCHA NHS accreditation scheme.
Care providers will need to meet eight standards to complete their accreditation. These will include provisions to identify the wellbeing needs of veterans and their partners by ensuring that Armed Forces status is included in care planning; addressing social isolation; and providing signposting to local statutory and charitable support services.
There are around 15,000 care homes in England, but only 20 currently offer specialist support to those who served in the Armed Forces and their partners. During an initial pilot phase of the VFF, ten care homes have met the required standards including all Royal Star & Garter and five Royal British Legion homes (with a sixth and final home about to achieve accreditation).
More than 670 veterans and partners are now benefiting from enhancements made resulting from the Framework and over 1,200 staff have received enhanced training and guidance in better engaging with the unique military experience. This will result in an increased understanding and awareness of the needs of the veteran community.
A further 20 care homes are in the process of gaining VFF accreditation. They include Ascot Care which has seven homes in the North-East, and Anchor, England’s largest not-for-profit provider of housing and care for people in later life, which has seven homes in the North West. They are already starting to see direct benefits for their residents from identifying members of the Armed Forces who had not previously shared their status as veterans, to connecting individuals within their homes and creating friendships and vital social interactions on the basis of their service.
The scheme aims to accredit hundreds more care homes over the next 18 months.