The purpose of this paper is to raise awareness of the many benefits associated with older people accessing befriending services and to increase the quantity that are set up and commissioned.
The paper contains a literature review: it looks into the results of two pilot projects and also features some case studies of befriending projects supporting older people.
Befriending services can be used to support older people: as a personalised form of care for those who may be isolated or lonely; to prevent the onset of dementia; to lead more active lives; and to increase the quality of their lives. Befrienders can help to spot illnesses which can prevent costly health conditions before they progress and help to reduce the burden on the National Health Service (NHS).
The positive research results from two pilot projects are featured in the paper, which both highlight that befriending services should be available for all older people throughout the country, if they so choose.
The research outcomes are positive and back up the argument for the introduction of more befriending services to be available to all older people, particularly those with personal budgets. Befriending services can also lead to cost saving benefits for the NHS through the early intervention and prevention of complicated health issues and through reducing dependency on its resources too.
Befriending services help to improve quality of life and should be more widely available to older people to access its personalised form of support and so should feature in public policy.
This paper highlights the role of befriending to those unsure of its meaning or role. This paper is of value to older people; local and central government; commissioners of health care; and people looking to improve the quality of life for older people.
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