Recently there has been a wealth of TV shows and newspaper columns dedicated to the issue of loneliness and isolation in older people living in the UK. One particular show that seems to have caught a lot of people’s attention, involves a group of young children spending time with residents from a care home, with a very positive result for both age groups.
When you think about the way we have structured today’s society, there aren’t many opportunities for young and old to mix unless they are family members. Which is strange given how beneficial it would appear to be for both age groups. How have we drifted so far apart from one another?
Torbay has a particularly high ratio of older people, with approximately half the population being over the age of 50, this includes a high proportion of isolated and lonely older people. This is why the Big Lottery, using National Lottery money, funded a 6 year programme in Torbay to trial different methods that reduce loneliness.
In December of last year the Ageing Well Team, began a large scale participation project called ‘Food for Thought’ at 20 locations across Torquay to find out what older people thought was and wasn’t working. Over 400 people took part by giving their feedback in person, by web survey, or through freepost postcards. There were many common themes identified during events, including transport, having places to go, the environment and being able to meet others. If you would like you can pick up a report of findings from our office on Temperance Street.
Often with events like these it can feel that you give your feedback and then nothing is done with it, however I am pleased to say that the information we gathered during the Food for Thought events has directly shaped the future direction of Ageing Well Torbay. 3 key themes emerged from the results; 1) increasing the range of affordable activities available, 2) increasing the opportunities for people to benefit from the skills of older people and 3) to create better access to affordable technology for information, as well as increased opportunities between generations to connect with one another.
Ageing Well Torbay launched an Innovation Fund to meet these objectives and trained a panel of older people to decide which project applications would be successful. This resulted in 8 new partners joining Ageing Well.
Daybreak will create new mental health peer support networks for people over 50, to reduce anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. Ellacombe Community Partnership will set up a new community internet café with opportunities for older people to expand their existing skills set, be able to socialise and receive free IT training. Healthwatch Torbay will also be helping older people get to grips with technology, by offering one to one support in the community or at home so older people can use online services and access social care resources. Karing will hold regular Sunday tea dances, as well as an activity week. Riviera FM are offering older people media training on all aspects of running a radio station. So-Fly will be helping to build mutual understanding and communication through peer-led groups, such as a young and old men’s woodwork group. Sound Communities will also bring young and old together to record, produce and broadcast memories and stories from around Torbay. Wellswood Community Partnership will provide a bookable ‘door-to-door’ minibus service.
Ageing Well Torbay want more older people to be involved in making decisions about services and what matters to them. There are lots of opportunities to be involved, if you would like more information phone us 01803 212638.