A major objective of the Campaign is to get councils and local NHS to measure loneliness, and evaluate the impact of any interventions commissioned. There is little national (and even less local) data on the prevalence of loneliness in older age in the UK, and how services can impact changes in levels of loneliness over time.
If we can identify levels of loneliness, and areas where people are at particular risk or are particularly lonely, we can make sure that resources, activities and services are reaching those most in need. We can also make sure that any support offered is as appropriate as possible, by looking at potential obstacles to staying connected – be that low income, lack of public transport or higher incidence of poor health.
Measuring loneliness locally also helps to evaluate the impact of any intervention, and test whether it is working, and will allow benchmarking against other parts of the country. Better measurement across different parts of the country will enable researchers to take a ‘what works’ view of loneliness interventions, and then feed this information back to services and local authorities so that they can produce and commission the most effective services.
Measuring loneliness as standard at a local level is vital to improving the UK’s service provision, to understanding loneliness, and to reaching the most isolated lonely people. Starting to measure your impact on loneliness might seem a small change in policy, but will lead to improvements in evaluations and practical, every-day attempts to reduce loneliness. Measuring loneliness will also increase your service’s ability to secure funding for its work, as funders rely heavily on evidence-based approaches, while enabling local authority commissioners to establish what is changing loneliness for people in their communities.