Are you working to prevent or reduce loneliness in your community?

Can you articulate the difference you are making to the lives of older people?

We’re all working in an increasingly competitive funding environment, and we all need to be able to demonstrate, robustly, that we’re making a difference.

Over the past year, the Campaign to End Loneliness has worked with over 50 organisations, researchers and older people to develop information and advice on choosing and using a scale to measure the impact of your services on loneliness. We’re delighted to publish a new tool and accompanying guidance today.

What does it cover?

This guidance offers information and advice on choosing and using a scale to measure the impact of your services on loneliness in older age.

We know that there is a lack of good quality evidence on the impact of different types of services on loneliness. We need to know more about ‘what works’ to prevent or alleviate it, as feeling lonely is linked to risk of an earlier death, depression and dementia.

In this guidance, we describe four different scales, which have been developed by different people, and have their own strengths and limitations. We set out how they were developed, their particular strengths and limitations and consider (amongst other things):

  • Length – how many questions does the scale contain?
  • Languageare the questions negatively or positively worded, or both?
  • Initially developed for… – was this originally intended for use by researchers or services?
  • Mentioning the ‘L’ word – does it ask directly about loneliness, or ask around the topic?

Measuring loneliness amongst the people who use your service will help you to demonstrate the positive impact of your work on the way people feel about their relationships and connections

Why use a scale?

A scale is simply a way of numerically measuring an opinion or emotion, and it one way to gather evidence about the effectiveness of a service. There are other approaches to collecting information, for example qualitative methods collect evidence without focusing on numbers.

However, services across the health, social care and voluntary sectors need more ‘hard’ evidence on the effectiveness on loneliness interventions. Using a scale will enable you to ask about loneliness in a more structured way – and produce numbers that can help you illustrate how much of a difference you’ve made.

Using a scale could also allow you to compare the impact of different activities or services on loneliness.

How can you get involved?

We’d like to encourage anyone delivering services, support or activities for older people to start measuring the difference they are making to loneliness. Reading our new guidance will help you to start thinking about why and how you can do this.

If you’re already doing this, let us know how you’re doing this and what you’d recommend. Email us if you:

  • Can help us write a case study about your evaluation on this webpage
  • Can present at a Campaign event about how you measure the difference you’re making to the lives of older people experiencing loneliness

Finally, if you haven’t already, do sign-up to become a supporter of the Campaign to End Loneliness. We offer you opportunities to:

  • Learn: from the very latest research and examples of good practice
  • Campaign: for change in your local community and on a national scale
  • Connect: with like-minded people to share ideas and work through challenges together