Pubs may be the answer for the adult social care crisis

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The Director for Adult Wellbeing at Herefordshire Council this week backed the idea of pubs being the ideal places to provide some social care for elderly and vulnerable adults in the community and said: “If pubs aren’t the answer, then I don’t know what is.”

Helen Coombes made her comments at the Pub is The Hub event to launch its Local Community Services Champions initiative in Herefordshire this week. She explained to the audience that the biggest change in adult social care in sixty years was about to take place in 2014 and that an increased demand for care across all ages had to be met with reducing budgets.

She said: “Social isolation for elderly people, particularly in rural areas has a devastating effect on their health. I see no problem in encouraging pub licensees to work with local care providers to offer healthy, affordable lunches, cooked with locally sourced food. At the same time I would encourage outreach workers and care providers to use pubs as ‘touch down’ areas whilst going about their daily business. We would welcome pubs who would like to become one of our ‘dementia-friendly communities’ and advertise themselves as such with external signage.”

Ms. Coombes went on to cite a recent example of the Hop Pole pub in Leominster run by Dave and Rachel Kelly, where they now provide lunch every day for people living in Norfolk House, a very sheltered housing scheme. Fifteen to twenty residents have lunch prepared and delivered by the pub and have loved the choice and variety they have had on the menu. Their lunches have resulted in improved emotional well-being and some of the residents have felt inspired to go back to the pub for quiz nights and other social events.

She added: “Pub licensees are the heart of their communities and play an important part in natural safeguarding for elderly and vulnerable adults – they are likely to be the first people to notice if a regular customer has been absent from the pub and to check up on them.”

Also at the event were Phil Pugh and Teresa Brandeberry from The Yew Tree Inn in Preston-on-Wye who run a Diamond Diners lunch group. Their free house pub is in a small village community of 250 people and when an elderly customer at the pub mentioned that his regular day care lunches had been closed down Phil and Teresa decided to step in and provide them instead. Working with AGE UK, they were approved for suitability and accessibility they now provide a weekly two-course lunch every Wednesday for local elderly residents and their carers. They also include some social activity such as a quiz or pub games and even invite the local community police officer to attend regularly for an update.

Pub is The Hub is working in conjunction with Herefordshire Council to support any rural licensees in the county who wish to diversify their services for the benefit of the community. Anyone interested in finding out more can contact Pub is The Hub on 01423 546165 or by emailing A local Pub is The Hub representative will call or visit to discuss the ideas and support that they can offer.