There is increasing interest in befriending services that aim to combat loneliness among older people. The purpose of this paper is to use the Equality Act 2010 as a framework for considering why older people might need these services and why some groups are over and under represented among service users.
Databases, websites and other resources were searched systematically for material on befriending. The final review consisted of 80 items, ranging from research articles, reports, and toolkits.
Individual face to face befriending has been the mainstay of the type of befriending support for older people. The increasing diversity of the older population and reductions in funding has led to adaptations of this model for different groups living in different circumstances.
The resources and time available to conduct the review were limited. It is possible that some relevant material was not identified.
Practitioners working with older people need to know about befriending schemes available in their area and consider the reasons why some groups of older people might be reluctant to use them or require specialist schemes.
Existing research on befriending rarely reports the demographic characteristics of those using the service in detail or considers why some groups of older people might have greater needs for befriending services or be reluctant to use them. The Equality Act 2010 provides a structured framework for considering diversity in access to, and use of, services.
The original review on which this paper draws was funded by Age UK. There are no declarations of interest arising from this paper. The Social Care Workforce Research Unit receives funding from the Department of Health Policy Research Programme. The views expressed here are those of the authors and not the Department of Health.
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