Gateway Services encompass technology and transport provision, which enable individuals to maintain existing relationships and support them in making new social connections. The lack of Gateway Services can have an enormous impact on older people’s ability to engage with services, and on communities’ ability to provide them.
Maintaining and creating new connections
As well as supporting existing relationships, interventions to reduce loneliness that involve technology can:
• Themselves be the source of a new relationship e.g. telephone befriending
• Enable, or create the catalyst for, new social connections
• Create the opportunity for new face-to-face relationships, e.g. in the provision of IT training.
The Campaign to End Loneliness report Understanding Loneliness Workshop: Is Technology a bug or a fix? explores the benefits and challenges of technology in addressing loneliness and includes ten ideas for using technology to prevent or overcome loneliness.
Technology can help older people maintain connections with existing contacts, and offers a cost-effective way of providing wider services and support. Technology-based provision may sometimes represent the ‘best case scenario’ in a time of limited resources, even though face-to-face provision may be preferred.
Early use of Telecare solutions can support independent living, allowing users to remain in their home and community environment for longer, avoiding relocation induced loneliness. The multiplicity of sensors etc now available for care lines and carers can do a great deal to promote independence and increase confidence, in addition to allowing friends and family to feel connected and provide support.
Accessible and affordable transport is key to retaining connections and independence in older age. Local commissioners should work closely with planning teams to develop and maintain an age-friendly approach to local transport. The following guidance both offers comprehensive checklists on transport provision in the categories below to meet the needs of older people:
• The Department for Transport: Transport solutions for older people: Information resource for local authorities
• World Health Organisation: Global Age-friendly Cities, A Guide Part 6: Transportation
Local areas should strive to ensure there is the provision of community transport –organised on a non-profit basis by voluntary organisations, community transport groups, and other non-statutory bodies. A number of voluntary organisations offer transport services for activities including shopping assistance, or traveling to social activities. Community transport can be flexible and responsive, and be particularly useful in dispersed rural communities, where buses have fewer passengers and destinations can be more diverse.
Case study: Shopping Service – Age UK Kensington and Chelsea
Case Study: Contact the Elderly Tea Parties
Accessible, affordable and safe public transport
Local transport providers and local authorities should work together to ensure that older people have affordable, accessible and safe access to public transport. Accessible transport should meet a range of mobility and sensory needs of older passengers and providers should to ensure adequate provision of information is available.
Age-friendly driving conditions and parking facilities
Driving can be an essential transport option for older people, particularly in rural and more remote residential areas. Heavy traffic, poor road conditions, inadequate street lighting and poorly- positioned signage can be barriers to confident city driving, particularly for older people. Planning and transport commissioners should consider the full range of environmental factors that affect older people (provided in the guides above), for example parking bays being located close to buildings and increased drop-off and pick-up bays to improve accessibility.