The Campaign to End Loneliness would like to see a clear target to tackle loneliness in the joint health and wellbeing strategy that will identify measurable actions to be undertaken by different local authority functions, or teams, with or for the local community.
Even in this time of austerity, we call on health and wellbeing boards to encourage CCGs to invest in prevention: services that prevent or alleviate loneliness can reduce demand on primary and acute health care
Different health and wellbeing boards are choosing different ways to frame priorities and define actions. This means the post-strategy outcome will depend on the individual style of strategy, and the needs, gaps and assets already identified in their community.
Therefore, the Campaign to End Loneliness does not single answer for what health and wellbeing boards should be doing once they have included loneliness in their Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy (JHWS) and Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA).
We can, however, make suggestions based on the past actions of local councils and NHS, but the appropriateness of these will always depend on the local situation:
- Regularly measure loneliness and mapping need through JSNA and/or lifestyle surveys. Use this to monitor impact of interventions.
- Include measures for reducing loneliness in any outcome-based commissioning (e.g. of voluntary sector groups and independent service providers)
- Improve information and advice on existing services and activities that reduce loneliness and isolation (not just online)
- Support the voluntary and community sector to build referral partnerships with primary healthcare bodies (GPs, community nurses), fire services and social workers.
- Protect subsidies for public transport for over-60s; improve accessibility to public and community transport
- Evaluate and improve physical environment in towns, villages and cities. E.g. Are there enough public toilets? Are there any pavement obstructions or uneven areas that can lead to falls? Are there plenty of benches available for people to rest on whilst shopping?
- Identify what is going well. How could best practice be replicated across a county or city?
- Approach local businesses (particularly those with a significant proportion of older customers) and ask them to identify and make changes that can improve social networks for older people in community