Tip top recognition for Ottery toenail cutting service

An innovative partnership project led by Devon County Council and Devon Primary Care Trust (PCT) has been short listed for a prestigious regional award.

An innovative partnership project led by Devon County Council and Devon Primary Care Trust (PCT) has been short listed for a prestigious regional award.

The foot care service, available to older people who cannot care for their own feet, has been short listed in the 'Improving Health and Reducing Inequalities' category of the 'Health & Social Care South West Regional Awards.'

The service is one of three finalists to attend the award ceremony next month in Yeovil where a regional winner will be announced.

The regional winner will then be entered in to the national awards with the winner announced in July.

The service is for people who have no relatives or friends nearby or able to help them care for their feet. Their only option would be to pay privately for podiatry, which can be too expensive for many people.

Local volunteers are trained and to provide straightforward foot care and toe nail cutting and are supported by NHS podiatrists. The volunteers look out for other foot problems which might need more specialist foot care and they can phone a NHS podiatrist at any time for instant guidance.

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Devon PCT will continue to provide the more specialist foot care services for more complex cases.

The foot care project, which is part of the 'My Life, My Choice' programme, has been entered in the category 'Improving Health and Reducing Inequalities'.

The project was initiated after research showed that having poorly looked after feet is a major cause of concern for older people.

Toenails left uncut or untreated can become painful and lead to poorer mobility, lack of confidence, and a greater chance of falling.

Neil McNeill, PCT assistant director for special projects, who has led the project for the past 16 months, said: "This is a great service and we are very proud of everyone who has worked so hard in developing this ground breaking project.

"People are living longer and a nail care service like this is invaluable."

Foot care services are currently available in Exeter, mid Devon, Torridge, Beaworthy, Tiverton, Ottery St Mary, Crediton, Okehampton, Dawlish and east Teignbridge.

Devon has one of the highest percentages of older people in the UK and within the next five years the number of people over 80 may rise by 20 per cent.

The older a population the greater demand this puts on local podiatry services creating access problems because of high waiting times for general foot care services.

Lack of mobility can cause loss of independence and withdrawal from normal social interaction bringing isolation, loneliness and depression. Keeping active and fit has a huge impact on general health and mental wellbeing for many older people.

The users of the service have the comfort of knowing that the volunteers have been NHS trained, the reputation of the NHS reassures them that their foot care will be of a high standard provided for a modest charge, much cheaper than private sector.

Many schemes provide a voluntary car service to the clinic, this gives housebound people a reason and opportunity to go out and contributes to their well being, reducing social isolation.

The foot care training, theory and practical, is now also available in Mandarin through an interpreter and documents are available in both Mandarin and Urdu.