BLANCHARD Catherine, BRITTAIN Andrea
British Red Cross Independent Living services such as Support at Home, Home from Hospital, and Mobility Aids provide time-limited support to help people live independently in their own home. This study explores the challenges facing people using these services, whose increasingly complex needs are creating greater obstacles to their ability to live independently. Phase one of the study conducted interviews with 29 service users, eight volunteers and 22 staff members into the problems service users face to living independently. Phase two used follow up questionnaires with 170 service users to explore key issues in more depth, including carers, mobility, information and advice, social isolation and loneliness. The results of the questionnaires found high levels of mobility reported-difficulties, which could impact on people's ability to maintain existing relationships and over half of respondents found difficult to find information and advice; The research also found that high numbers of service users live alone and also have high levels of social isolation and loneliness that require long-term intervention. Of the167 service users who answered questions on social isolation, 64 per cent experienced 'some' social isolation and a quarter fell into the 'most isolated' group. Drawing on findings, the report makes recommendations for the Independent Living service in relation to service development, advocacy and communications and data collection. These include: for services to be person-centred, consider partnerships and employ good practice in signposting; for the collection of data on whether people live alone, how long they have lived alone; and being clear in communications that loneliness and social isolation are different concepts.