Anna Tummon, Health and Wellbeing Officer, was welcomed to the meeting, to present the findings of her research on social isolation in the South Area. Members were reminded of the work recently commenced in the Wombwell Ward by Age UK, which sought to reduce social isolation.
Members were reminded of the difference between social isolation and loneliness, and the impact on health. The research considered who was affected, the barriers to them being engaged, and support required for them to re-engage. The return on investment in this area was also noted, with Public Health England suggesting £5.96 for every £1 invested.
Though data was limited, it was suggested that approximately 3,640 of the 9,100 residents aged 65+ in 2020 would be living alone and at risk of becoming socially isolated.
Further research was undertaken which included with service users, and professionals. The major issues contributing were found to be: - transport and geography; awareness and information; confidence and reassurance; and technology limiting interaction. For them to engage more easily, the following would make it easier:- increased awareness and advertising; transport; a friendly face. Members noted that there were community and individual factors that resulted in social isolation.
As a result of the research it was suggested that existing assets be utilised, but with efforts to reduce barriers. It was suggested that this would require a targeted and proactive approach. A number of options in order to do so were put forward and discussed, however it was recognised that the Area Council may wish to pause to consider the outcome of the Age UK intervention in the Wombwell area.
With regards to transport, suggestions were made for Ward Alliance applications to give consideration on how those at risk of social isolation could be engaged. Members discussed the difficulties in identifying those most isolated and the need for referrals from agencies they may be in contact with.
It was suggested that a decision on any significant intervention be paused pending the outcome of the work of Age UK in Wombwell, and they be invited to a future meeting of the Area Council to give an update on the project so far. However, in the interim it was thought to be beneficial to further develop a Winter Wellbeing Campaign, which would bring together many priorities to engage and improve the wellbeing of older and socially isolated residents.
(i) That the Health and Wellbeing Officer be thanked for her attendance and work so far;
(ii) That Age UK be invited to give a presentation on the preliminary findings of their work in Wombwell after 3-6 months of delivery;
(iii) That, working with relevant partners, a Winter Wellbeing Campaign be developed to bring together multiple priorities to address the needs of older and socially isolated people, and that this be considered in more detail by a future meeting of the Area Council.