Agenda item

Halton - A place without Loneliness


The Board considered a report of the Strategic Director, Communities which presented Members with the Halton-A place without Loneliness Scoping Document and highlighted future work required to further develop the strategic approach to the prevention of loneliness in Halton.


The Board was advised that the Campaign to End Loneliness had been formed last year, which was a coalition of organisations and individuals working together through research, policy, campaigning and innovation to combat loneliness and inspire individuals to keep connected in older age in the UK. Work had taken place in partnership with the Local Government Association and Age UK Oxford to produce toolkits and action packs for Health and Wellbeing Boards, professionals and older people around the subject of loneliness.


The Board was further advised that Halton Borough Council had, for many years, been at the forefront of initiatives to prevent and alleviate social isolation especially with Sure Start to Later Life and Community Bridge Builders services. However, it was clear that a focus on social isolation alone may not combat the pain of loneliness felt by so many older citizens. All partners and individuals involved in the development and provision of prevention services for Older People, through the work of the Health and Well-Being Steering Group and the Older People’s Board now recognised the  need to further develop the services and activities associated with tackling social isolation, which already existed in the borough, to combating loneliness.


It was reported that Halton Borough Council would be one of the first Local authorities to adopt a strategic approach to combating loneliness and therefore the outcomes of the project would be of national importance both to practice and research in this field, and had been endorsed by the National lead for the campaign to end loneliness.


In conclusion, it was reported that two DVD’s on this issue would be presented to the Board at its January 2014 meeting.


The following comments arose from the discussion:-


·             The Board noted that the Visbuzz scheme would be piloted with up to 100 local older people and would enable lonely older people to keep in contact with family, friends and carers.  It was also noted that the Authority were trying to negotiate a broadband deal for the scheme;


·             It was noted that the Visbuzz Scheme was only one approach to tackling loneliness as not everyone would respond to such a scheme, other approaches such as a personal relationship with an individual or social groups would be considered, depending on an individuals needs;


·             Concern was raised that as this was not a statutory function, funding for it to continue would not be available.  However, it was noted that resourcing groups was not only reliant on funding, various levels of support was required and their work needed to be valued;


·             It was noted that the CCG were looking at an integrated technology approach, a suite of choices that people will have and if the equipment incorporated a small cost, it would be more beneficial in the long term;


·             It was noted that loneliness and isolation led to depression, drug and alcohol abuse and health problems; and


·             It was suggested that the idea of loneliness could be linked to being a new town were the families of the older generation have moved and they have lost their wide circle of friends.  In addition, with the economic climate and reductions in benefits and wages, leisure activities where no longer an option.  In response, it was reported that if a person had family support it did not mean that they were not lonely.  In addition, it was reported that consideration was being given to twinning care homes with schools to help address loneliness.


RESOLVED: That the contents of the report, the scoping document attached at Appendix 1 to the report and the comments raised be noted.



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