Tackling loneliness in rural areas
This IMPACT project focuses on tackling loneliness among older people in Moray, Scotland. The project is engaging with older people local to Moray to review the factors that lead to isolation.
In rural areas, loneliness is more common, and therefore this project will help uncover mechanisms to overcome the challenges and re-engage older people within the wider community.
A lack of definition as to what constitutes ‘older people’, ‘rural’, ‘loneliness’, and ‘social isolation’ has been identified in academic research.
Mapping Approaches to Loneliness in Moray
The first stage of the project involved mapping the approaches currently available in Moray that aim to reduce loneliness for older people. We undertook mapping via web searches, visiting communities (exploring notice boards and in conversation with local people) and speaking with people involved in delivering services and approaches (local authority, NHS, church and community). Approaches explored included signposting, Health and Social Care Moray services, third sector befriending as well as community approaches.
One approach, Moray Shared Lives (a Health and Social Care Moray service) empowers people to become part of their community with the support of a Shared Lives carer, with whom they are matched with based on mutual interests and choice. The support is based within the Shared Lives carers’ home and community with people being met at their home to begin their day support.
This often involves supporting people to be part of activities run by the local community. One example is the Be Active Life Long (BALL) Groups which can be found across Moray. Whilst initially set up with support from the local authority, the local community are empowered to take ownership and run the group themselves, often involving organising activity, chat, tea and cake.
The next stage of the project focuses on Speyside and Buckie and their surrounding areas allowing for comparison between a rural farming and a coastal fishing community.
Visiting communities and local groups to find out what helps reduce loneliness whilst also exploring approaches in other areas of Scotland, the hope is to bring people together and over a cup of tea co-produce recommendations for service development. There have already been some great discussions and responses:
“I can’t drive up the hill on the farm anymore and I miss it…I’d like to be able to go to church on a Sunday.”Older person who draws on care and support
“I would be lonely if my carers didn’t come to my house and if my Shared Lives carer didn’t take me out once a week, it’s the only time I go out.”Person who draws on care and support
“I’d like a wee bit of company on a winter’s night.”Older person who draws on care and support
“One person I know doesn’t see anyone apart from family. No one is passing and he sees no one day to day. A lot of people slip through the net.”Person who delivers services
“It takes courage to join a group.”Community Member
“(In Moray) people could be based here for the military and retire, their children have moved away. It means that community groups are invaluable. Friendships become like family.”Community Wellbeing Team
“There is no village square in rural areas so it’s hard to get the word out with what is on. You really need to connect with the local people and networks.”Person who delivers services
Please get in touch with Nicola if you live in either of these communities and would like to be involved: [email protected]