RNHA welcomes move to measure social isolation
Caring Times, January 2013
The Registered Nursing Home Association has welcomed a Department of Health plan to require local authorities to collect data on the social isolation and loneliness of older people.
Commenting on the move, RNHA chief executive officer Frank Ursell said: “We believe the extent of loneliness among older people in Britain has tended to be under-estimated in the past. Attitudes among policy-makers are also coloured by an assumption that most of the millions of older people living on their own would prefer to stay in their own homes. In our experience, this is not necessarily the case.
“We therefore welcome the inclusion of a measurement of social isolation in the Department of Health’s adults social care outcomes framework for 2013/14. We concur with its assessment that loneliness plays a part in shaping people’s physical and mental health.”
Stressing the extent to which admission to a care home can help many older people to overcome their sense of isolation, Mr Ursell pointed to research by the Personal Social Services Research Unit at the University of Kent which found that around three in ten of new care home residents cited a lack of friends and carers as one of the reasons for wanting to move into care. Seven out of ten residents who had been in a care home for just three months told researchers that they had already made at least two new friends. He added: “While a deterioration in physical or mental health is the main reason why older people move out of their own homes and into a nursing or residential care home, there is no hiding the fact that loneliness is a contributing factor. Individuals get to the point where they cannot cope on their own any more, even if they receive half an hour’s domiciliary support every day.
“But once they come into a nursing home, they have daily contact with a wide range of staff as well as all the other residents. There are also organised activities for them to take part in.”