Agenda and draft minutes

Select Committee - Loneliness and Social Isolation - Monday, 24th September, 2018 2.00 pm

Venue: Swale 1, Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone. View directions

Contact: Gaetano Romagnuolo  03000 416624

Note No. Item

14:00 - 14:45


Diane Aslett (Development Officer, Age UKs in Kent Consortium) pdf icon PDF 47 KB

Presentation to follow.

Additional documents:


(1)          Mr Pugh welcomed Diane Aslett (Development Officer, Age UKs in Kent Consortium) and asked her to introduce herself as well as asking the Members to introduce themselves.


(2)          Mrs Aslett said she worked for a group of charities known as either Age UK or Age Concern in Kent.  The charities provided a range of services for older people in centres, in the community or in people’s homes in all part of Kent.  All services helped to reduce loneliness and social isolation.  All the charities were linked to Age UK which is a national charity that campaigns on a range of issues relating to older people.   As the Development Officer he role was to share best practice, apply for funding, start and terminate projects. 


(3)          Mrs Aslett presented a series of slides (published in the agenda pack for the meeting) setting out Age UK/Concern’s perspective on social isolation and loneliness among older people in Kent.


(4)          Following her presentation, she responded to Members’ questions and comments as follows.


(5)          A view was expressed that: a couple could be married for 40 years but one partner might be lonely but might also be afraid to say so in front of the other; Neighbourhood Watch could be used as a ‘loneliness’ watch rather than setting up a new organisation; and evidence suggested that those who helped others enhanced their own well-being and therefore it was important to get lonely people to help other lonely people.


(6)          In response Mrs Aslett said many of the Befriending Service volunteers were themselves lonely.  Some who had benefitted from the service went on to become volunteers and the challenging issues was to get the chronically lonely into a position where they could engage with others or even volunteer.


(7)          A Member welcomed the acknowledgment that identifying the chronically lonely and the socially isolated was difficult and that these issues could not be solved quickly with social prescribing.  He asked about the impact of mental health issues that made it difficult for people to admit to being lonely.


(8)          Mrs Aslett said that a mental health referral could be initiated by a family member.  She also said that the Personal Independence Programme included risk stratification indicators (such as frequent emergency admissions to hospital, increase or decrease in the number of visits to GPs because of loneliness rather than a long-term condition etc).  When an individual was identified as being at risk of loneliness a letter would be sent advising that Age UK would call. If the individual was interested a Personal Independence Co-ordinator would work with the individual and support them to access social activity and support.


(9)          It was acknowledged that not all GPs were involved in social prescribing and that communities, particularly in villages and rural areas, had a role in keeping a watch for older people who might be lonely. The differences between communities was also recognised.


(10)     A member paid tribute to the work being done by Age UK and to the variety  ...  view the full minutes text for item 1.

15:00 - 15:45


James Kirby (Programme Manager, Social Enterprise Kent - Ageless Thanet) pdf icon PDF 41 KB

Additional documents:


(1)        James Kirby introduced himself as the Programme Manager of Social Enterprise Kent (SEK) which led the Ageless Thanet project.   SEK had been in operation for over 30 years, working to improve lives and support communities.  It delivered many projects, including National Lottery funded projects such as Building Better Opportunities.  For example, Let’s Get Working which supported disadvantaged people who were not in work or training.  It helped them on the path to finding employment or volunteering opportunities within their local community.  SEK had gained a unique understanding of loneliness and social isolation, including that experienced by totally housebound people. 

(2)       James Kirby said that he had previously worked for Thanet DC and been responsible for developing the specification for the Ageless Thanet Project in collaboration with Cummins Power Generation Ltd who acted as the sponsors.  He had been determined that the project would work for all rather than for those who “shouted the loudest.”  National Lottery requirements stated that the Local Authority must hand the bid over to a third sector organisation, so Thanet DC had created an open tender for third sector organisations to lead Ageless Thanet. SEK had been democratically elected to lead the bid.  SEK had then been successful in the final stages of the bid and required a Programme Manager.  James had then applied for and been appointed to this position. 

(3)       James Kirby then said that National Lottery funding of £3m had been provided for Ageless Thanet for a period of five years, starting in 2015.  It worked to tackling social isolation and loneliness, improve mental and physical health in older people and influence perceptions of ageing.  It achieved this by delivering a range of sub-contracted projects.   One of these was the Wellbeing Project which supported a large range of activity courses. These courses had been academically evaluated by the University of Kent and lasted for 8 to12 weeks.  Improvements in levels of social isolation were measured using the UCLA 3 Scale (the link to a document from the Campaign to End Loneliness, shows the version of the UCLA Loneliness and De Jong Gierveld scales used by Ageless Thanet is


(4)       The activities which the Wellbeing Project supported included belly dancing, burlesque, walking football, sewing and pickleball.  This last activity (similar in nature to tennis) had proved to be so successful that an international team had been created based at St George’s in Broadstairs.  The participants had made friends and met new people and were able to pay for the activity themselves at a price of between £3 and £5 per week, approximately.

(5)        Another successful activity had been the art classes.  This was an example of meeting the needs of the participants.  The people who had asked for this had wished to learn to paint with oils in the style of Manet and Monet.  They had previously been offered poster paint and potato printing by other organisations and felt patronised because of this.  Once Ageless Thanet had become involved, proper artists  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2.

16:00 - 16:45


Ken Scott (The Older People's Task and Finish Group) and Paul Clarke (Maidstone Borough Council) pdf icon PDF 44 KB

Presentation to follow.

Additional documents:


1.            The Chairman welcomed Mr Scott and Mr Clarke to the meeting.


2.            Mr Scott set out his role as the Voluntary Chairman of the Older People’s Task and Finish Group, which was a sub-group of the Maidstone Health and Wellbeing Board.  Mr Scott explained that he had a personal interest in the arts and health and wellbeing issues.


3.            Mr Clarke explained that he was the Health and Lifestyle Commissioning Officer for Maidstone Borough Council, overseeing the Council’s Health Improvement Programme. He was attending the Select Committee in place of his colleague, Sarah Ward, who served on the Older People’s Task and Finish Group.


4.            Mr Scott presented a series of slides (published in the agenda pack for the meeting) which set out eight of the Task and Finish Group’s workstreams.  The other two (improving hospital discharge processes and falls prevention) were not directly related to loneliness and social isolation so had been omitted for this meeting. He referred to the charity Involve, which the Select Committee was to interview later, and explained that Involve headed up the specific work stream relating to loneliness and that he would not cover their activity in view of the impending visit.


5.            He explained that there was a distinction between the terms ‘social isolation’ and ‘loneliness’; the first was objective, determined by external environment, the second subjective, determined by personality. Research had shown that some lonely people tended to become disillusioned, distrustful, difficult and disengaged. A study by the Office of National Statistics had concluded that loneliness did not increase with age, however, this contradicted the findings of other studies of loneliness. A reason offered for this was that loneliness was so damaging to health that many lonely people died prematurely and did not live to old age.  In addition, older people tended to be stoical and did not identify themselves as lonely as they did not want to be troublesome.  


6.            In terms of risk factors, there were two types of prevention work which related to older people.  Using falls as an example, intervention after someone had had a fall to avoid more serious falls, was a type 2 intervention, while identification of risks to prevent them having a fall was a type 1 prevention. Most interventions were type 2. 


7.            Mr Scott explained that, as his background was not in health and social care, he had spoken to a wide range of organisations to gather background material. He was struck by an apparent link between the level of engagement with older people and the ease of access and proactivity. He asked the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, health and social care co-ordinators and Community Wardens what percentage of their clients were older people. Their responses had varied: Citizens’ Advice Bureau said 17 – 19%, health and social care 30 – 40% and Community Wardens over 50%.  This difference was partly due to the nature of the service offered by each group and the way in which they engaged with clients; some  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.