The use of telephone befriending in low level support for socially isolated older people - an evaluation
CATTAN Mima, KIME Nicola, BAGNALL Anne-Marie
Telephone befriending schemes have long been considered an effective method to reduce loneliness among older people. This study investigated the impact of a national scheme for 40 isolated and lonely older people, involving 8 project sites in the UK. It assessed the impact of different models of telephone-based befriending services on older people's health and well-being. Findings revealed that the service helped older people to gain confidence, re-engage with the community and become socially active again. Overall, three main topics were identified: why older people valued the service; what impact it had made on their health and well-being; and what they wanted from the service. Also, nine subtopics emerged: life is worth living; gaining a sense of belonging; knowing they had a friend; a healthy mind is a healthy body; the alleviation of loneliness and anxiety; increased self-confidence; ordinary conversation; a trusted and reliable service; the future - giving something back. In conclusion, telephone befriending schemes for older people provide low-cost means for socially isolated older people to become more confident and independent and develop a sense of self-respect.