OUTSIDE THE BOX
This report, developed as a resource for community groups, draws on recent key reports, discussion papers and research studies to present evidence on creating and sustaining community-based support for older people, including those which older people lead. It provides definitions of terms and approaches used in community-based support; outlines the current the policy context in Scotland; and then provides an overview of the main findings on community capacity building, changes in public services and the impacts for older people. Points raised in the evidence include: older people who need extra support generally know what will make life better for them; community-based activities that focus on older people's wellbeing complement other services; and that providing community-based solutions and low-level support to older people before they need greater support can prevent or reduce the need for higher intensity services, bring benefits and better outcomes to the people involved. The final section summarises findings from the individual reports and research reviews identified. Although the policy and practice context for the report focuses on the situation in Scotland, most of the reports featured in the review come from the experience of services based in England.
SOCIAL CARE INSTITUTE FOR EXCELLENCE, CONTACT THE ELDERLY
This At a glance briefing explains the importance of tackling social isolation and loneliness, particularly among older people. It highlights the adverse effects of feeling isolated and describes a number of services that have been found to help reduce the problem. It draws on research evidence from SCIE's 'Research briefing 39: preventing loneliness and isolation: interventions and outcomes'. It also includes case study examples of two services - a befriending scheme and social group - that help to help mitigate loneliness and isolation and improve the wellbeing of older people.
HEMINGWAY Ann, JACK Eleanor
A UK charity established a network of 70 friendship clubs in the south of England, facilitated by volunteers, with the aim of promoting well-being for older people. The charity provides venues and transport for participants to meet and enjoy activities locally every week for 2 hours. This article reports on a 3 year research project exploring the impacts of the intervention, using qualitative research methods and including participant observation and individual and focus group interviews. The study was based on 10 of the friendship clubs and collected information from 82 members and 18 volunteers. The article describes the intervention and the study methodology. It presents the results, with illustrative quotations from participants, covering views on the risk of becoming isolated, feeling isolated, and friendship and support. It identifies additional factors that can predispose an individual to become socially isolated, including environment and safety fears, fear of falling, and loss of confidence, and notes that even when living with their families older people can still feel socially isolated. It reports that club members and volunteers viewed themselves as assets for each other, offering support, advice and friendship, and that, overall, the perceived benefits for attendees of attending the friendship clubs fell into 3 key areas: improved well-being, social relations, and mental and physical health.