Local authorities should take a strategic approach to addressing loneliness in their local areas. This section explains how to take action in 4 steps:
Step 1: Gather information
Step 2: Feed into strategy development
Step 3: Strengthen partnerships
Step 4: Monitor and evaluate
As a first step, local commissioners should build a picture of local people affected by/at risk of loneliness in their local area. The following resources provide useful guidance in gathering this information:
• Foundation services: Reaching Lonely Individuals
• Template: Building a basic picture for JSNAs and JHWSs
Mapping loneliness services and local assets
Existing services that address loneliness should be mapped, including the full range of interventions from the across the loneliness framework. See here for a briefing note on mapping services.
A good strategy will consider local assets as well as needs. These can include the practical skills of local residents, community networks and connections, and the resources of public, private and voluntary organisations. For guidance on asset mapping, see page 20 on the LGA’s A glass half-full: how an asset approach can improve community health and well-being.
Including older people’s voices
The views and experiences of older people should be included in strategy development. Views can be gathered from existing or new consultation exercises, lifestyle surveys, and older people’s forums or voluntary organisations.
Local commissioners will need to develop loneliness strategies and action plans according to their local circumstances.
Addressing gaps in loneliness interventions framework
Local authorities and commissioners should work through the loneliness framework to plan which interventions need to be prioritised and addressed, ensuring a comprehensive or ‘whole systems’ approach to addressing loneliness.
Targeting responses to specific groups who are particularly vulnerable to loneliness (such as men or carers) will help increase the effectiveness of interventions. There are factsheets available relating to statistics and risk factors.
The importance of information provision
Information on combatting loneliness should be made clear, specific to a local area, and available to the public. Here are examples of commissioners that have facilitated or funded projects to share information:
Case study: The Care Forum’s Well Aware Website
Case Study: East Sussex County Council’s Social Care Direct
Active involvement of older people
Commissioners should allow for older people’s participation in strategy development, and involvement in co-designing /delivering services.
Commissioning against outcomes
Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and local authorities should be commissioning against specific outcomes to reduce loneliness and isolation.
An integrated approach across local authority functions
An effective loneliness strategy should commit to effective partnership working across all local authority functional silos. This should ensure structures and services are accessible to, and inclusive of, older people with varying needs and capacities. Such areas include planning, transport, housing, social participation. See the section ‘Age Positive Approaches’ section and the Checklist: Working across local authority boundaries for further guidance.
Strong public and voluntary partnerships
Good partnerships and networks between the public and voluntary sector can provide a better understanding of the older people’s needs, and develop effective responses.
Case study : Manchester City Council’s Valuing Older People Team has established local networks to support older people, enabling the better use of resources and the identification of gaps.
Health and wellbeing board members delivering together
Over 50 per cent of health and wellbeing boards have committed to addressing loneliness and/or isolation in their strategies. The health and wellbeing board factsheet suggests the roles that CCG’s and local council teams can play in working together on implementing their commitment.
Monitoring the implementation of strategy
The implementation of strategies and action plans should be monitored. This could be undertaken through regular reporting at local structures, including at health and wellbeing boards, Council scrutiny bodies, task and finishing groups, and older people’s forums etc.
Measuring effectiveness of loneliness interventions
It is important that new and existing commissioned services measure their impact on reducing loneliness for service users. The Campaign to End Loneliness has published guidance, Measuring your impact on loneliness in later life, which is explored in the Evaluation section.
Cost effectiveness of loneliness interventions
Analysing the cost effectiveness of a loneliness intervention should include looking at the reduction of the demand on health and social care services. See the Evidence on health and social care costs factsheet, and the Evaluation section offers examples of cost/benefit evaluations.