Structural Enablers aim to create the right environment to reduce loneliness by focusing on ‘how’ rather than ‘what’ is being delivered. When considering strategies that address loneliness and isolation, local authorities should seek to fulfil the following:
Commissioners should strive to deliver measures to address loneliness at a neighbourhood (or even ward) level as older people spend more time in, and often feel more committed to their neighbourhood. Breaking down areas at neighbourhood level can also be more manageable and allow effective targeting of initiatives and enables outreach efforts.
The Neighbourhood Networks in Leeds have led the way in establishing a neighbourhood based approach to ageing issues more generally, and have gathered evidence about the impact of engagement with neighbourhood networks on feelings of connectedness and wellbeing, using the Older Person’s Outcomes Star.
Case study: Leeds Neighbourhood Networks
Watch our video on Leeds Neighbourhood Networks that delivers 37 locally based schemes, run by committees that are representative of the communities they serve.
An Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) approach is based on the principle that every community has a supply of assets and resources that can be used to build the community, solve problems, and sustain health and wellbeing. When addressing loneliness in a local area, commissioners are encouraged to utilise local assets such as peoples’ time, social connections, under used buildings (even in the private sector), land, mini buses, and library space. This involves identifying and mobilising existing individual and community assets, rather than focusing on problems, needs, or ‘deficits.’ An ABCD approach to tackling loneliness in older people is likely to deliver a range of services that meet three criteria:
Being what older local people want
Involving older people
Stages of Asset Based Community Development:
The ABCD Institute suggests the key stages of Asset Based Community Development are:
• Mapping the capacities and assets in the area
• Building relationships and connections between residents, and between residents and agencies, to change values and attitudes
• Mobilising residents to become self-organising and active by sharing knowledge and resources and identifying common interests
• Convening a core group of residents to identify, from the asset mapping and mobilising activities, the key theme or issue that will inspire people to get organised and to create a vision and a plan levering in outside resources only to do those things that the residents cannot do for themselves; they need to be in a position of strength in dealing with outside agencies.
Guidance on implementing ABCD
The following provides useful guidance on implementing Asset Based Community Development:
• Local Government Association Guidance A glass half-full: how an asset approach can improve community health and well-being.
• Public Health England and NHS England’s: A guide to community-centred approaches for health and wellbeing
• The ABCD Institute www.abcdinstitute.org
Loneliness Challenges: Lil’s Story
Volunteering can directly prevent and alleviate loneliness, improving wellbeing and social connections for the volunteer.
Council for Voluntary Services (CVS)
Local commissioners and service provides can work in partnership with their local Council for Voluntary Service who will have links with voluntary sector groups/providers in their area, and often administer a website that enables search and self-access activities and resources. The National Council for Voluntary Organisations has a large resource pool covering all aspects of volunteering and publishes an annual report that can assist commissioners.
Other volunteering opportunities
Independent Age has useful information to older people about volunteering in their guidance: Healthy, happy, and connected: Support and advice for older people living alone. Chapter 3 includes links to a wide range of volunteering opportunities and organisations including:
• The Retired and Senior Volunteer Programme helps older people use their life experience in their community and especially welcomes volunteers over 80
• Do It – search for volunteer opportunities online by area and you are online
• Independent Age volunteer team
• Royal Voluntary Service
Tel: 0845 6080122
• Age UK
• Contact the Elderly holds tea parties for older people over 75.The tea parties are provided by hosts who can offer tea for small groups two to three times a year. The charity relies on regular volunteer drivers to take guests to the tea parties and home again.
• Reach finds volunteer positions for people with specific skills.
• Time Banking exchanges individuals time sharing their skills, for example in gardening for credit, which then can be used to gain the time of another individual skills, for example, setting up the internet.
Case Study: Royal Voluntary Service Volunteers
Case Study: LinkAge Bristol – Involve, Inspire, Enjoy
Age positive approaches involve local authorities placing an emphasis on healthy and active ageing in their policy and practice, and reject negative stereotypes of later life.
World Health Organisation (WHO) Age-friendly Cities and communities
In 2010 Manchester became the UK’s first Age Friendly City, and is part of a growing global network supported by the WHO. An age-friendly city adapts its structures and services to be accessible to, and inclusive of, older people with varying needs and capacities.
The WHO Age-friendly Cities framework developed in the Global Age-friendly Cities Guide proposes eight interconnected domains that can help local authorities to identify and address barriers to the well-being and participation of older people:
Case Study: Culture Champions – Age Friendly Manchester