Commission on Improving Urgent Care for Older People

carer helping an older woman

The Commission on Improving Urgent Care for Older People was launched by the NHS Confederation in March 2015.

It aims to produce practical guidance and support for people involved in designing care for older people, and brings together experts from across the care system who have a shared purpose of making care better. 

The Commission published its final report, Growing Old Together, on 28 January 2016. As well as the experience of the 18 expert commissioners, the report is informed by more than 60 evidence submissions; a series of visits to areas and organisations using innovative ways to deliver care; conversations with NHS Confederation members and patient and carer groups; and a literature review, which provides a comprehensive overview of evidence on the subject. 

The Commission recognises there are a number of fundamental elements that underpin good care for older people and ought to be borne in mind when any changes are being made.  Most notable of these is that care driven by the individual should deliver a tailored, not a standard, response. The Commission also acknowledges that the acute sector’s role should be viewed as important and integral, at the right time.

In a media statement launching the report, Mark Newbold, chair of the commission said:

“We want to help people to stay well both mentally and physically and receive care that responds to their needs and personal wishes. Achieving this is better for both the individual and the wider care system.”

Key principles of the Commission  

Commission members drew up eight key principles to be used as a touchstone in any redesign of services to ensure older people’s needs and wishes were being met.
  1. We must always start with care driven by the person’s needs and personal goals. 
  2. A greater focus on proactive care. 
  3. Acknowledge current strains on the system and allow time to think. 
  4. Care co-ordination and navigation – recognise the importance of having a single connection within a complex system. 
  5. Encourage greater use of multi-disciplinary and multi-agency teams. 
  6. Ensure workforce, training and core skills reflect modern day requirements. 
  7. Leadership should encourage us to do things differently. 
  8. Metrics must truly reflect the care experience for older people. 

Our key principles document gives further detail on each of these eight areas. 


We have a range of resources and supporting documents to accompany the report, including a literature review, an infographic and several case studies giving examples of successful initiatives across England. These are all available on our resources page.   

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About the Commission

Find out more about the Commission on Improving Urgent Care for Older People, its members and its aims

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Where good practice is happening

Find out about the organisations that are successfully improving urgent care for older people

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Resources to support improving urgent care for older people

Case studies and resources to support improving urgent care for older people

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FAQs on the Commission

Questions and answers about the Commission and its work

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The animation

This three-minute animation illustrates the urgent need to revamp care for frail older people

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