The purpose of this paper is to share the findings of a research evaluation into a Befriending and Re-ablement Service (BARS) which offers a host of positive outcomes such as reduced loneliness and keeping as well as possible for a growing segment of the world’s population. The recent increase in longevity is one of humanity’s great success stories. But ageing comes at a price, and decision takers worry about the stresses and strains of an ageing society.
Following a literature review, this paper presents the findings of an evaluation of an alternative innovative form of support for older people, namely BARS, that has been developed on Merseyside. Semi- and unstructured interviews were carried out with stakeholders including service users and carers. A cost-benefit analysis is also reported. Finally the theoretical and policy implications of this research are explored.
Befriending and re-ablement officers is both a socially and economically cost effective means of enhancing independent living among older people, reducing loneliness and isolation that can contribute to ill health. The research shows that funding for the BARS scheme should be sustained and expanded, despite or because of the current era of cutbacks in UK and international service provision.
The paper highlights the value, role and importance of both befriending and re-ablement in a time of acute public and voluntary sector funding pressures. The paper is of value to a range of stakeholder groups such as older people, local and central governments and health care commissioners.
Statement of ethics: the research approach and work with human subjects in this study was cleared by the University Ethics Committee. The research was conducted by the Centre for Crime, Criminalisation and Social Exclusion, Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), in 2014 and was funded by Age Concern Liverpool and Sefton (ACLS). ACLS stipulated that the study should contain a cost-benefit analysis but the rest of the research design was left largely to the expertise of the authors. The authors welcome the permission of ACLS to present the key findings to a wider audience. The authors would also like to thank the referees for their helpful comments on an earlier version. This paper is also dedicated to the late Christine McGoldrick who carried out extensive research in the area of ageing for many years and was a pivotal figure in the write up of this paper. The authors hope this paper is fitting testament to her tireless work and her efforts to publicise and share good practices that might benefit older people more widely.
McGoldrick, C., Barrett, G.A. and Cook, I. (2017), "Befriending and Re-ablement Service: a better alternative in an age of austerity", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 37 No. 1/2, pp. 51-68. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSSP-08-2015-0090
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