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Article
Publication date: 29 November 2013

Anna Goodman and Marianne Symons

The purpose of this paper is to provide an update on the progress of the Campaign to End Loneliness, and aims to illustrate how commissioners can be influenced to address…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide an update on the progress of the Campaign to End Loneliness, and aims to illustrate how commissioners can be influenced to address loneliness in their localities.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is a case study that draws upon an external evaluation of the Campaign to End Loneliness by Charities Evaluation Services, a review of local government strategies and case studies of good practice.

Findings

This paper focuses on the design, implementation and progress of Loneliness Harms Health, a series of local campaigns targeting health and wellbeing boards. It provides a case study of how evidence-based campaigning influenced newly formed health and wellbeing boards to address loneliness in their localities, and identifies implications for commissioner and provider practice.

Practical implications

This paper demonstrates how to successfully influence commissioning practice using a “pincer” movement of local campaigning, top-down advice and information. It highlights examples of good practice uncovered by the Campaign over the past 18 months including measurement of, and partnership working around, the issue of loneliness in older age. Three recommendations are made for local service providers and commissioners wishing to address loneliness: it should be linked to other priorities, cross-agency partnerships are vital and asset-based approaches can save money. It concludes with information about the future of the Campaign to End Loneliness and information on how to get involved.

Originality/value

This paper provides a detailed analysis of an innovative, policy-based, campaigning strategy to influence commissioning and practice around the issue of loneliness in older age. It is an issue which can be easily overlooked by care, public health and NHS professionals, but early results indicate the newly formed health and wellbeing boards can play a significant role in addressing it.

Details

Working with Older People, vol. 17 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1366-3666

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Article
Publication date: 17 June 2011

Laura Ferguson

This paper aims to give an overview of the issue of loneliness, an update of issues heard of from across the country, as well as some positive stories and projects being…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to give an overview of the issue of loneliness, an update of issues heard of from across the country, as well as some positive stories and projects being delivered to alleviate loneliness in older age.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper describes the current research into loneliness in older age, including related health issues and anecdotal evidence from local groups linking reductions in services with increased levels of loneliness in older age.

Findings

Loneliness is a highly subjective emotion that is difficult and complex to measure. However, research has shown that men and women are affected differently. It has been shown to have strong links to health issues such as depression, Alzheimer's and heart disease as well as having been shown to be a bigger risk factor in early mortality than lifelong smoking and obesity.

Originality/value

This paper highlights the first steps being taken by organisations working, under the umbrella of a recently launched Campaign to End Loneliness, towards further reducing loneliness in older age.

Details

Working with Older People, vol. 15 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1366-3666

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Article
Publication date: 9 March 2015

Laura Ferguson

– The purpose of this paper is to highlight the actions needed and organisations to make a difference to the problem of loneliness in old age.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to highlight the actions needed and organisations to make a difference to the problem of loneliness in old age.

Design/methodology/approach

Draws on the work of the Campaign to End Loneliness in collaboration with hundreds of organisations worldwide to document what has been done so far and to provide exemplars and imagined case studies based on collected experience to identify potential relevant actions.

Findings

Many hundreds of organisations worldwide are recognising the need to support older peoples’ connections and abilities to engage with their communities. However, these need to be better mapped and coordinated.

Practical implications

Innovative work is already being done to tackle loneliness needs to be more systematically supported and promoted.

Originality/value

Identifies how much has already changed in terms of recognising and addressing loneliness but that a more comprehensive approach to support is needed.

Details

Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, vol. 16 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1471-7794

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Article
Publication date: 30 November 2012

Laura Ferguson

This paper aims to present and discuss a range of evidence from across the UK and further afield that supports the view that preventing loneliness through action by all…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to present and discuss a range of evidence from across the UK and further afield that supports the view that preventing loneliness through action by all ages will ultimately improve the health and wellbeing of older people, and that an asset‐based, cross‐agency movement to creating and maintaining connections in older age could deliver savings to both health and social care in the long term.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is a collation of academic research, along with more informal evidence from voluntary sector groups to support an approach to policy and practice that tackles loneliness in older age.

Findings

Drawing on evidence from UK and US research that states the health impact of loneliness, a view of the multi‐layered action required shows that local health bodies, charities and groups as well as neighbours and businesses have crucial parts to play to stop the pernicious hold of loneliness in older age.

Originality/value

The arguments put forward here draw on research undertaken by academic authors but their collation to present a view on how to address the impact of loneliness on health is a relatively recent one.

Details

Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, vol. 13 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1471-7794

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Article
Publication date: 12 September 2016

Mary Pat Sullivan, Christina Rita Victor and Michael Thomas

There is extensive empirical literature that has sought to establish the prevalence of, and risk factors for, loneliness and social isolation in later life. Traditional…

Abstract

Purpose

There is extensive empirical literature that has sought to establish the prevalence of, and risk factors for, loneliness and social isolation in later life. Traditional empirical gerontological approaches have characterised loneliness as a linear experience that is both pathological and easily relieved with external intervention. The purpose of this paper is to explore the potential of qualitative interview data to reveal the possible complexities in understanding loneliness, including conceptual considerations for the dynamic and multi-dimensional aspects of loneliness.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors draw on two different studies where the purpose was to qualitatively examine the meaning of loneliness in the lives of older people and how they understood loneliness in the context of their daily life (n=37).

Findings

Interviews with “lonely” older people revealed that loneliness is a complex and dynamic experience. The authors also identified a range of internal and external factors that contribute to vulnerability for loneliness as well as resources to alleviate it.

Originality/value

The dynamic and multi-dimensional characteristics of loneliness in older people may help explain why community-based interventions to diminish it may be so challenging.

Details

Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, vol. 17 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1471-7794

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 14 December 2020

Kristina M. Conroy, Srikripa Krishnan, Stacy Mittelstaedt and Sonny S. Patel

Loneliness has been a known severe public health concern among the elderly population during the COVID-19 pandemic. This paper aims to discuss the practicalities of using…

Abstract

Purpose

Loneliness has been a known severe public health concern among the elderly population during the COVID-19 pandemic. This paper aims to discuss the practicalities of using emerging technologies to address elderly loneliness and its implications and adaptations to the outbreak of corona virus disease–2019.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors draw on examples from the literature and their own observations from working with older adults, to provide an overview of possible ways technology could help this population in the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Findings

Technological advancements have offered remarkable opportunities to deliver care and maintain connections despite the need to stay physically separated. These tools can be integrated into crisis communications, public health responses and care programs to address loneliness among the elderly. However, it must be done strategically and informed by the type of loneliness at play, environmental factors, socioeconomics and technological literacy.

Practical implications

Care-providing organizations and policymakers should consider the risk of loneliness while responding to COVID-19 outbreak, particularly within elderly populations. As a part of a broader plan, technological solutions and low-tech approaches can make a difference in mitigating loneliness. Solutions should be accessible to and usable by older adults. Provision of equipment, training and guidance may be necessary to execute a technology-centric plan; for some communities and individuals, approaches that do not rely on advanced technology may be more effective.

Originality/value

Technological advancements can be a valuable tool in addressing known public health concerns, such as loneliness among the elderly populations. However, the use of this tool should be governed by the specific situation at hand, taking into consideration individual needs and environmental factors, especially the compounded effects caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Different technological programs and approaches are appropriate for different types of loneliness. For example, online therapy such as internet-based cognitive behavior therapy may mitigate loneliness caused by fear and online interaction such as videoconferencing may relieve loneliness caused by lack of social engagement.

Details

Working with Older People, vol. 24 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1366-3666

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 17 September 2019

Guy Robertson

The purpose of this paper is to outline the need to develop a more balanced approach to addressing the loneliness experience by older people by recognising the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to outline the need to develop a more balanced approach to addressing the loneliness experience by older people by recognising the psychological and emotional dynamics which cause it. It proposes a more holistic psychosocial approach to loneliness.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper draws on and reviews the published literature on the psychological aspects of loneliness.

Findings

Although not extensive, there is sufficient evidence to begin to develop and test more psychosocial approaches to addressing loneliness.

Research limitations/implications

The evidence base is not extensive and a fair degree of it has not been fully trialled with older people.

Practical implications

There is an a priori case for using the evidence that exists to develop and test out new psychosocial interventions for addressing loneliness.

Social implications

It is possible that a more psychosocial approach to loneliness will enable more to be done to address the significant distress of older people experience severe and chronic loneliness. It may also be possible to develop more effective preventative strategies which build resilience in older people.

Originality/value

The field of loneliness practice and research is overwhelmingly based on sociological analysis and social interventions. This paper is one of the first to explicitly highlight the value in drawing from psychological data in order to develop psychosocial approaches.

Details

Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, vol. 20 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1471-7794

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Article
Publication date: 2 December 2014

Miriam Emily Wilcox

The purpose of this paper is to describe the work of the new, free telephone helpline The Silver Line in empowering older people to overcome social isolation and loneliness

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to describe the work of the new, free telephone helpline The Silver Line in empowering older people to overcome social isolation and loneliness, and where appropriate refer cases of abuse and neglect to specialist services.

Design/methodology/approach

Beginning with a family member's description of how the helpline made a difference to her relative this paper then outlines the rationale, methods and outcomes of The Silver Line, including a role it may play in reducing demand for NHS services.

Findings

The paper highlights that social isolation and loneliness can be tackled through a helpline which leaves control firmly in the hands of callers while offering them a gateway to activities and services.

Practical implications

It seems that telephone contact is a particularly helpful way for isolated people to begin to build social contact given that there is evidence of a stigma associated with admitting to loneliness.

Social implications

Given a straightforward way to connect to others, people are empowered to overcome their own loneliness, improve their well-being and sometimes to rejoin their community. The charity reports that callers to the helpline may themselves become volunteer befrienders (“Silver Line Friends”) providing support to others and gaining evidence of their own value to society. In addition, a friendly chat over the phone can be an enabling link to gaining new skills, such as computer literacy, which may otherwise seem out of reach or irrelevant.

Originality/value

The paper emphasises the importance of this helpline specifically and the wider need for hard to reach, isolated older people to have an accessible stepping stone to greater social contact and a higher quality of life.

Details

Working with Older People, vol. 18 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1366-3666

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Article
Publication date: 14 December 2015

Shelagh Marshall OBE and Janet Crampton

The purpose of this paper is to: first, report on a pilot; second, provide a further opportunity for a wider audience to be aware of the work carried out by the Age Action…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to: first, report on a pilot; second, provide a further opportunity for a wider audience to be aware of the work carried out by the Age Action Alliance, Isolation and Loneliness Working Group to identify vulnerable people in the community. Third, to highlight the successful aspects of the project which could be used by other organisations seeking to reduce the effects of isolation and loneliness in the community. Links to the full report and the more detailed findings can be found at: www.ageactionalliance

Design/methodology/approach

The main proposal was to test the most effective approach to identifying those at risk of loneliness, using pharmacists in two well-known “high street” pharmacies, through the use of a simple questionnaire that could be handed out to a target 100 customers at each pharmacy or health care team over a six-week period.

Findings

A simple questionnaire proves to be successful and gets a good rate of return. The right partners are essential to bring effective results. Referrals were handled very professionally and people were helped to connect socially.

Research limitations/implications

The sample was small but the authors achieved a relatively high rate of returns and, in consequence, a number of people were directly helped access the support, information and advice to enable them to feel less lonely.

Practical implications

The planning and preparation for this project proved that all needed to be actively and continuously involved in the planning from the beginning. Furthermore in this project involving local pharmacies, the manager or lead pharmacist at a store need to lead and actively engage their staff in the aims and objectives of the project.

Social implications

This project aimed to identify people at risk of loneliness and the potential adverse effect on their health and well-being. Anyone helped to avoid social isolation and loneliness is a success, and sometimes with relatively low cost but high-impact intervention.

Originality/value

This project was conceived amongst partners and reflected the particular involvement of a “household name” pharmacy and recognition of its key role in identifying and accessing people who may be at risk of loneliness.

Details

Working with Older People, vol. 19 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1366-3666

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Article
Publication date: 30 November 2012

Christopher Minett

This article aims to reflect on the role of prevention with respect to active ageing and why early action and intervention to promote active ageing at a societal, familial…

Abstract

Purpose

This article aims to reflect on the role of prevention with respect to active ageing and why early action and intervention to promote active ageing at a societal, familial and personal level has potentially become somewhat of a necessity.

Design/methodology/approach

The article is the observations of injury prevention and contemporary active ageing initiatives in the UK from a practitioner's perspective.

Findings

The potential contribution of prevention towards optimised active ageing has frequently been recognised and supported by studies and programs from around the world. This article supports the theme that prevention can play an important role in promoting active ageing.

Originality/value

The article provides a simple and structured reflection upon the potential role of injury prevention in active ageing and also provides a framework for further analysis and discussion.

1 – 10 of 360