Millions of lonely people are going uncounted as government tracking of isolation and loneliness fails to see beyond those in social care.
On Tuesday 8 July the Health and Social Care Information Centre will publish the latest findings of the Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework which seeks to assess the quality of life and care for adults receiving any form of social care. However, the Campaign to End loneliness has warned that without measuring loneliness more widely, millions of people at risk of loneliness will be overlooked and could miss out on the support and help they need.
The Campaign has called for Ministers to follow through with their commitment to measure loneliness across the population – allowing limited resources to be targeted at the people and places that need them most.
Between 2012 and 2013 the indicator which tracks social isolation in adult social care found that well over half of adults receiving social care (56.8 per cent) were not getting as much social contact as they wanted. The Campaign to End loneliness want’s local authorities to see this new data as a wakeup call and make reducing loneliness a key target in their attempts to improve health and wellbeing.
Laura Ferguson, Director for the Campaign to End Loneliness, says: “Adults using social care are some of those most at risk of suffering from loneliness and isolation. We know that being lonely and isolated can have a profound effect on our health and it is our duty to better serve these vulnerable people.
“These results make it clear that those responsible for providing local health and care services need to do more to tackle loneliness and isolation among their older populations and vulnerable service users.
“But we need to go further than this. We know loneliness poses a significant health risk to people long before they enter the social care system. The Government says it is committed to measuring loneliness across the population, but we are yet to see any meaningful progress. If we don’t know where those at risk of loneliness are, we can do little to help them, and less to prevent the health issues that can follow as a consequence.”
Loneliness and isolation are associated with poor mental, physical and emotional health, including increased rates of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, cognitive decline and dementia. Socially isolated and lonely adults are more likely to undergo early admission into residential or nursing care.