The challenge of reducing isolation and loneliness amongst the population has received considerable attention in the media, politically and in our communities. The perception is that large numbers of people are living out their lives alone and isolated, invisible to most of us as we go about our daily lives, with older people representing a particularly vulnerable group.
Interlink, Rhondda Cynon Taf’s county voluntary council commissioned an independent assessment to understand which services already existed within the county that tackled isolation and loneliness and how they faired in comparison with best practice. They were also interested in finding out how the voices of older people were included in local service design and delivery. Finally, Interlink were piloting an innovative method to capture older people’s lived experience to see if that could be fed into service design. This report captures that information and provides a number of recommendations on how to combat the issues of isolation and loneliness amongst the over 65s in Rhondda Cynon Taf.
In the first chapter the factors that put older people at risk of experiencing loneliness and isolation are explained. Followed by the impact of loneliness and isolation on the communities, services and resources of Rhondda Cynon Taf.
The second chapter starts with an analysis of academic and non-academic evidence of the services that can reduce isolation and loneliness. This is used to catagorize current activities in the Rhondda, Cynon and Taf valleys. This chapter also includes a framework for action that could help prevent isolation and loneliness becoming a problem in the first place. What is evident is that no one organisation has a monopoly on the type of interventions needed to reduce isolation and loneliness amongst the over 65s.
The third chapter provides an analysis of why and how services are planned locally – including the mutual benefits of capturing and using service user feedback for all stakeholders. It also details feedback from interviews with a number of individuals working in the area with older people and uses their insights to turn academic evidence into practical insights on what’s happening locally – and what isn’t.
The final chapter is an evaluation of the Community Ethnography pilot set up by Interlink to capture the lived experience of older. It contains some of the emerging views of people experiencing isolation and loneliness in the area. The chapter finishes with feedback from the volunteers on how to be more effective as community ethnographers and better at understanding the needs and assets of the over 65s within their communities.
As part of that successful funding bid, Interlink was able to commission The Wellbeing Planner to carry out some independent research on how to tackle isolation and loneliness in the older population of Rhondda Cynon Taf. This report is the result of that research.
This report provides Interlink and its partners with the following:
a) An independent analysis of services that reduce isolation and support the prevention / early intervention agenda as well as hospital discharge.
b) An analysis of the service planning and commissioning landscape for services for those over 65 years of age.
c) The emerging views of older people experiencing isolation in order to better inform services.
d) Recommendations on how to shape and coproduce services to reduce isolation and loneliness in the over 65 population of Rhondda Cynon Taf.
The focus of this evaluation is to look into the issues of loneliness and isolation in the over 65 population in Rhondda Cynon Taf. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Simon on 01443 846221 for the full report or a discussion on the research and / or the ethnography project or storytelling project.