Loneliness behind the front doors

Posted on February 5th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. 1 Comment

By Guest Blogger KEITH LEWIN

Last week SCIE issued its monthly ‘Briefing for Commissioners’, its focus is on social isolation which it correctly says “can be difficult to identify.”

There has and, sadly, always will be a cohort of people of all ages who are lonely. And the fact is that for older people the situation can be made much more difficult because, for many, they may have lost their ‘life-partner’, friends of many years will have died, and frailty prevents them from leaving home.

There is the telephone… which rarely rings… and for some people the daily contact with carers who, to many, seem to come less frequently and/or for shorter visits.

The telephone befriending service provided by Silver Line is for some people a God-send, but not enough people are aware of the service and I suppose that, of those people who are aware of its existence, many would not avail themselves of it.

Perhaps there is a role for professional carers to promote Silver Line, as well as organisations such as Action on Elder Abuse (I must declare an interest as I am a trustee/director of AEA, and our chief executive, Gary Fitzgerald is a former director of Silver Line) to the older people they support.

I regret that Stephen Ladyman, when he was minister responsible for adult social care, asserted almost 15 years ago that “everyone wants their own front door”. That is a phrase which has been echoed down the years by politicians and others. I think that the assertion is correct if one asks people who are in good health, and who are fit and active. In my experience that is less true of people who have disabilities and/or who are old and frail with worsening health.

For those people, as a society – and for those working in the health and/or social care sector – we must make communal living much more appealing so that moving into a care home is not seen as a ‘failure’ but simply another alternative style of living.

With the baby-boomer generation now slipping into the ‘catchment’ age of those needing greater care, surely we can make an ‘easy sale’ of care home living by appealing to the hippy-lifestyle of communal living which, for many people who in the 1960s considered communes, even if they did not then pursue, the alternative lifestyle…

  • The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.

One response to “Loneliness behind the front doors”

  1. John Burton says:

    Very good to raise the issue of loneliness and the community in relation to care homes. As one of the early baby boomers, having lived in, worked in and consulted to a wide variety of therapeutic communities for more than fifty years, I find it extraordinary that public policy and social care practice have little conception of the advantages of living in a real community. I have published articles, papers, and books about this for forty years, and I’m certainly not alone in doing so. Living in a community – be it a village, street or neighbourhood, or indeed a care home – is the most obvious yet ignored (and perhaps feared?) aspect of support for a good life . . . and death.

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