To understand loneliness and the impact it has on older people’s lives, Senior Campaigns Officer Samantha Kennedy has been visiting people supported by local Age UK’s. In this blog she talks about meeting Doris and finding out about social prescribing.
How do we reach people who are lonely? People who are cut off and isolated? One way is through their GPs, they’re often among the few individuals with whom lonely individuals have contact. Earlier this year Citizen’s Advice reported that 64% of GPs see patients with social isolation issues.
Doris from North Tyneside is 82 and was feeling lonely and isolated, often with just the TV for company.
“Eight years I’ve lived here, and I knew no more than half a dozen people. Because I can’t walk very far, all I wanted was to talk to people now and again but I didn’t have that and it was really getting me down.”
Arts and crafts on prescription
“I was at the doctor’s and they mentioned Social Prescribing, which was ideal for me because I needed more social contact.”
You may have heard of people being prescribed Weight Watchers or gym membership, that’s social prescribing. It’s a way of enabling GPs to refer patients with social, emotional or practical needs to a range of local, non-clinical services, often provided by the voluntary and community sector.
Doris agreed to be referred to The North Tyneside’s Social Prescribing Service, a partnership initiative between Tyneside Mind, Percy Hedley Foundation and Age UK North Tyneside.
“Before I knew what was happening, there I was getting a telephone call asking if the Social Prescribing Coordinator could come and meet me. I said yes, she came out and had a chat about my interests, and got me into the crafts club.”
“It’s the best thing that has ever happened to me”
“Tuesdays are the best day of the week, what a lovely group of ladies! I love going to the club, we all talk to each other while we’re knitting or sewing, they are all just really, really nice people.”
“The club wasn’t on over Christmas, but I got birthday cards and Christmas cards from every single one of the ladies!”
For Doris, simply knowing someone was thinking about her over Christmas went a long way.
Support our campaign to tackle loneliness
Social prescribing is just one tool at our disposal to tackle loneliness, there is no single ‘magic bullet solution’ for loneliness. All people are individuals and, like us all, older people need choices.
We want local and national government to understand this; and we want them to commit to take action with us. The right framework of local and national action can prevent and tackle loneliness.
No one should have no one: please sign our petition