Loneliness: how do you know your council is actively tacking loneliness?
LOCAL GOVERNMENT ASSOCIATION
Local Government Association
Sets out a framework of interventions for tackling loneliness, which could be used to shape local areas delivery plans. There is a growing body of research showing that loneliness is a serious condition which can have a harmful effect on individuals’ physical and mental health, as well as bringing costs to public finance, particularly health and social care, and to the economy. The report argues that it is important that local areas define the nature of loneliness in their area, and who is at risk, through their JSNA, using local intelligence and national information such as that provided by the ONS and Age UK’s Loneliness heat map. The document identifies a number of services and approaches that provide the first steps in finding individuals who are experiencing loneliness and enabling them to gain support that meets their specific needs. These include: first contact schemes; door-knocking schemes, targeting people at risk; formal social care assessments; social prescribing in primary care; home from hospital or admissions avoidance schemes; information about activity to tackle loneliness available through settings such as supermarkets, one-stop-shops, pharmacies and GP surgeries. The report also considers direct interventions, which can help people maintain existing relationships and develop new ones, including: group activities such as men’s groups, lunch clubs, walking groups, book groups for people with mental health problems, choirs, and cooking groups for young parents; one-to-one approaches such as befriending schemes; psychological support, such as counselling or cognitive-behavioural therapy. Specific community approaches provide an enabling environment and include: establishing age-friendly, dementia-friendly and mental health-friendly communities; developing volunteering, including people who might not ordinarily volunteer; mobilising peer support, and intergenerational support in neighbourhoods. In addition, gateway services such as transport, technology, spatial planning and housing make it easier for communities to come together and help people build and maintain social connections. (Edited publisher abstract)