News

The Hampshire Association of Local Councils
Social Isolation: Pilot scheme

One of the ALC’s priorities is around social isolation, hence the reason we support the County Village Agent scheme, and now this Social Isolation scheme.  We have an aging population, no current ability to ramp up our local government spending on care, and a need to support communities being resilient and sustainable.

Background and Introduction

Whilst there are a number of population groups that are vulnerable to social isolation and loneliness, (e.g. young care-leavers, refugees and those with mental health problems), it is widely-recognised that older people (as individuals as well as carers) often living in rural areas, have specific vulnerabilities owing to loss of friends and family, loss of mobility or loss of income’.

  • 20% of the 65+ population are estimated to be mildly lonely’ (48,674 people) - Across Hampshire
  • 8-10% of the 65+ population are estimated to be intensely lonely’ (19,470-24,337 people) - Across Hampshire

The impact of social isolation on the individual’s health and well-being has been shown to be significant. Both isolation and loneliness impair quality of life and well-being. However, only social isolation (and not loneliness) has been shown to be associated with increased mortality, through contributing factors such as depression, and an increased risk of nutritional problems.

Proposed project, outcomes and measures

HCC’s proposal is run 3 pilot projects focused on understanding and addressing social isolation among older people in different rural locations. Key indicators of Social Isolation which underpinned the choice of the 3 areas.  One of those areas is Stockbridge. The pilot will run for 12 months will be judged against a series of outcomes and benefit measures to be agreed in detail at the outset. Examples of these may be:

  • Reduction in reported feelings of isolation
  • Reported improvement in diet
  • Ability to use Skype to contact a relative
  • Increase in attendance at events outside the home
  • Increased contact with one or more of family, friends, local groups.

Selection criteria for the pilot will include factors such as:

  • Living alone
  • Recent bereavement
  • No personal transport or easy local access
  • Recent Fall
  • No local family/friends or regular contact with those living further away
  • Not attending any local groups or amenities regularly

The explicit objective of the proposed pilot is to proactively identify and target those individuals who are currently most at risk from the impact of social isolation. The aim then is to support them to re-engage with family and friends with whom they may have lost touch and with their local community or with one of the many communities of interest to be found online.

It is understood that Age Concern Hampshire currently offers computer training in rural areas. It is a service valued by many over 50’s [to whom the service is targeted] who are able to benefit from their computer classes for a small donation of £4.50 per session. However the current configuration of the Age Concern service is not explicitly targeting those older people who are socially isolated, or trying to address and resolve the issues of social isolation.

It will be important to create a sustainable solution that continues to deliver benefits for those involved beyond the duration of the pilots. Hence the pilots will seek to engage with CCG’s, the Local Surgery, local agencies and charitable groups that can both assist in the pilots and maintain an involvement after they conclude. We also recognise the vital part that local elected members can play in both helping to ensure that the pilots are focused on the most appropriate people within each community and on sharing the lessons across the wider community. Hence we will keep members informed and involved throughout.

Estimated Pilot Costings

  • A grant has been allocated to the project and will be circa £22.5K
  • HCC Adult Services in collaboration with key agents identified from the local communities concerned will develop the project delivery plans for

each pilot at its initiation. This will include the detailed work required to configure each pilot, the technical due diligence on which type of tablet device will be most appropriate and how this will be configured. It will also include detailed analysis of the most appropriate commercial

I hope councils will agree that this pilot has much merit, that this type of work is an area where local councils can make positive input as with the Village Agent scheme, and will follow it with interest.

The contact is Cllr Andrew Gibson, email is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..