In the United Kingdom, there are an estimated one million, one hundred thousand people over the age of 65 who are chronically lonely. We are in desperate need to identify these missing million lonely older people.
Members of the Campaign’s Learning Network have expressed strong interest in further guidance about how to address the challenge of identifying loneliness. In response we have launched the Missing Million report with three main aims:
- To help commissioners and service providers develop methods to help them identify older people experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, loneliness.
- To help commissioners and service providers to put these methods into practice.
- To help front line service providers to better understand and respond to loneliness and engage older people experiencing loneliness in constructive dialogue.
The report is made up of three sections: Identifying Loneliness, Applying the Methods and Talking About Loneliness.
The first section, Identifying Loneliness describes different ways of identifying older people who may be at risk of loneliness by exploring the options of which data is available to help locate these people. It also looks at how local and hidden intelligence might be surfaced to help identify the lonely.
The second section, Applying the Methods, illustrates how different methods can be used and provides case studies based on the approaches outlined in the first section.
The third section, Talking About Loneliness aims to help front line staff and volunteers prepare for and engage in constructive dialogue with someone at risk of being lonely.
Some of the key findings include:
- Use data to inform decisions
- Develop partnerships
- It is necessary to combine different methods and data sources in order to effectively identify older people experiencing loneliness
- The expanding range of open data, data visualisation packages, health informatics and the internet of things provides new ways of identifying older people experiencing loneliness
- Foundations for a conversation: use the skills and qualities of empathy, openness, warmth and respect to facilitate a conversation about loneliness