Our services are designed to help reconnect people with the things that make life worth living, so they can stay independent for longer. Aimed at those who are 55 plus and have limited support from friends and family, the approach aims to link people back into their community for mutual support.
Loneliness has been increasingly recognised over the last 10 years as a key determinant of health and wellbeing, linked to depression, anxiety, declining mobility and high blood pressure.
Support at home could be a helping hand after illness, injury or bereavement – or simply an intervention when someone has lost confidence and needs a bit of a boost.
There is a direct cost of loneliness on the use of public services, perhaps because with a lack of support, people become less resilient. Compared to those well supported socially, older people who are lonely are on average:
- 1.8 times more likely to visit their GP
- 1.6 times more likely to visit A&E
- 3.5 times more likely to enter local authority funded residential care.
What we do
There can be many different ways to support an individual, so the first step will usually be an assessment by a Service Coordinator. This is very much led by the person receiving the support, as it's about what they'd like to achieve. They'd then be matched to a volunteer – someone local, with similar interests.
The plan could include activities such as:
- Assisted shopping, with nutrition and hydration information
- Activity programmes to address muscle loss, for example one to one or group 'Move it or Lose it!' sessions
- Goal setting – what do you want to be doing in six weeks?
- Guidance on use of relevant IT to develop communication and connection
- Community Transport, to help get them out and about
- Safe and Well check to highlight any problems with housing
- Putting clients in touch with local partner organisations to help with things like fitting aids, checking on benefits and handyman services.
It's always part of the plan that support is time-limited, so there's a clear focus on helping to kickstart activities the client can continue independently. We'll also get in touch as a follow-up, to see how they are and if any further support is needed.
How it makes a difference
Low cost, preventative interventions based on social factors can make a huge difference to quality of life, and have a significant impact on uptake of health and social care services. Across our support at home services we measure the outcomes of the people we support, across six criteria: happiness, safety, health, loneliness, independence and connection with the community.
We also measure the impact that volunteering has on our volunteers, to demonstrate the difference it's making to their lives, as well as on health and social services.
Little by little you start to become slower and depressed
Maude is 78, and lives alone in East London. She feels that the more involvement in your community you have when you are older, the better for you, and it will keep you going as long as you can.