Table of contents

Unmet needs and service gaps

Adults :: Social Isolation :: Unmet needs and service gaps

• Identifying people at risk of loneliness can be difficult, but targeting those disproportionately affected by loneliness – lower socio-economic groups, the widowed, the physically isolated, people who have recently stopped driving, those with sensory impairment and the very old – has proven most effective.

• Individuals within local communities should be encouraged to take some responsibility for identifying, 'reaching out' and supporting potentially isolated people within their own area. In order to achieve this, statutory, voluntary and community organisations need to work in partnership to build greater community capacity and better social outcomes for risk populations. The DERIC project which is being piloted in Medway and looks to do this should be supported.

• Reducing social Isolation needs to be built in to care pathways for a range of different conditions. Health professionals should be mindful of the effects that social isolation have on health and refer into a befriending group or community group.

• We will ensure that we will continue to offer the wide range of high quality services that are currently available across Medway in leisure centres, libraries and adult education centres.

• Ensuring that social isolation is embedded in any relevant future strategies and JSNA chapters.

• There is a need to undertake marketing and promotional work to raise the profile of social isolation in the Medway population.

• There is a need to improve awareness of social isolation via training among frontline professionals that include; health professionals, social care workers, community safety wardens, housing officers, community development workers and floating support staff. The increased knowledge will help them to have an increased awareness of the risks of social isolation and knowledge of how to address it.

• It is important to ensure we utilise opportunities to work with faith groups as partners to identify and support people at risk of being isolated.

• There is a need to utilise the opportunity from public health programmes to target raising awareness for social isolation and signpost people to support and activities. Examples of programmes include health checks, stop smoking, substance misuse.

• It is important to improve the availability of information and advice on existing services and activities that reduce loneliness and isolation. Local authority websites, book and social network groups, sports clubs, art groups, transport links and volunteering opportunities can all help reduce social isolation. It is important to ensure that information on these activities are available in day centres, health centres, schools, youth projects, housing offices and other settings within the local community.

• Evaluation is a key component of any future programmes in Medway. Self-reporting is regarded as the best means of measuring social isolation and loneliness amongst older people. Measurements using valid scales such the Friendship Scale should be utilised. In order to assess whether specific programmes are able to change individuals' quality of life, or impact on their care pathway, participants need to be asked their views before the start of the intervention as well as following it.