New research from the University of Kent has identified the need for loneliness ‘maps’ to help charities and public services support those experiencing, or at risk of, loneliness.

 

The research underpins a new report published on 8 April by the Campaign to End Loneliness. Titled Hidden Citizens: how can we identify the most lonely older adults?, the report suggests that local services and councils use existing data to predict where the most lonely and isolated residents live – allowing limited resources to be targeted at the people and places that need them most.

 

Dr Adrian Adams, of the University’s School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research and Dr Hannah Swift, of EURAGE - co-authors of the report with Anna Goodman, of the Campaign to End Loneliness - found that a person can experience loneliness because of a variety of reasons. These can range from the loss of a loved one to the need to become a carer - or from living in an urban area with high population turnover to finding yourself in an area with limited public transport.

 

The researchers found in particular that addressing loneliness requires better understanding of, and engagement with, local communities by agencies. Services also need to communicate, collaborate and cooperate more effectively with each other if the most lonely older people are to be identified, reached and supported.

 

The Campaign to End Loneliness suggests that loneliness and isolation are as harmful to our long-term health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and that people experiencing severe loneliness may visit their GP more often, and enter residential care earlier. The new Care Act , which came into force on 1 April, now places a responsibility on councils to address loneliness and isolation.

 

View the executive summary of 'Hidden Citizens: how can we identify the most lonely older adults?' or the full report.

 

Also view the Campaign to End Loneliness blog.

 

 

 

 

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