Agenda and draft minutes

Select Committee - Loneliness and Social Isolation - Monday, 1st October, 2018 2.00 pm

Venue: Stour Room, Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone. View directions

Contact: Gaetano Romagnuolo  03000 416624

Note No. Item

14:00 - 14:45


Dr Hannah Swift (Eastern ARC Lead and Research Fellow, University of Kent) pdf icon PDF 45 KB

Additional documents:


The Chair welcomed Dr Swift to the Committee.


Dr Swift began by informing the committee that she was a Social Psychologist and had completed her PHD which was collaboratively funded with Age UK.  Her main research focus is on ageism, attitudes towards older and younger people and learning from their experiences.


In 2012 she completed a research fellowship and is shortly to be confirmed as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Kent.  She has developed an understanding of experiences of ageism in different domains including in the workplace, an example of which is looking at employment trends such as employment of younger cohorts over old.  She continued that one interesting focus point was how people use language to describe themselves.  An example of this was that young people tend to present themselves in a younger sounding context; whereas older people will refer more negatively using such language as – ‘I am too old for this’.  This was also a factor in health environments such as dieting – ‘I am too old to change’.


Continuing the health focus, Dr Swift said that a Longitudinal Study completed by a Psychologist in America on health and wellbeing and the negative and positive attitudes to ageing demonstrated that those with a more negative outlook were found to live seven and half years less than those with a positive attitude to ageing.


Q - Do you think a mechanism for feeling this way has been discovered yet?

Dr Swift commented that it depends on the person and the situation that they are in.  There is a fear of being judged by their age in this group, more so than other age groups.  She stated that people acquire stereotypes of aging particularly when they are younger, which creates a social identity perspective, for example when they are young it can give a sense of making them feel better to say that the young are better than the older generations.  Dr Swift said that one solution was to create a more positive social identity. 


Q – Do you think that in Eastern cultures the opposite is true?

Dr Swift agreed that age is respected but they can also fear being a burden in later life, highlighting that there were high suicide rates in China and Japan, potentially because of that.


Q – What were the key findings in the Hidden Citizens report?

Dr Swift informed the committee that she was interested in loneliness and in how lonely people may self-exclude themselves. She said that research in day centres and care homes had shown that attendees don’t want to socialise with other attendees as they did not realise that they are part of that age group.


The Hidden Citizens report jointly undertaken by the University of Kent asked for a review on the consequences of loneliness and associated impacts within health and social care.  Dr Swift said that one of the key questions was ‘How do you tackle loneliness and on a subject matter that is subjective?’.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

15:00 - 15:45


Hayley Brooks (Head of Housing and Health, Sevenoaks District Council) and Debra Exall (Strategic Relationships Adviser, Kent County Council) pdf icon PDF 69 KB



The Chair welcomed the guest to the committee and a short introduction was given by Members.


Mrs Brooks and Mrs Exall advised the Committee that a short video was available to view upon discretion should Members wish to see the One You Adviser scheme in operation: 

The report presented to the Committee set out evidence of how social isolation and loneliness amongst older people could be prevented by action, services and initiatives carried out by District Councils, either unilaterally or in partnership with other organisations, and provided examples of innovative work already underway.


Q – Please introduce yourselves and provide an outline of the roles and responsibilities that your posts involve?


Hayley Brooks – Head of Housing and Health

Debra Exall – Strategic Relationship Adviser, Kent County Council


Mrs Brooks, Head of Housing and Health, Sevenoaks District Council said that her role within the Council was to manage both projects and staff within the Communities and Business Team at Sevenoaks District Council. The Team delivered a range of community engagement, housing and partnership projects relating to health prevention and promotion, healthy lifestyles, housing advice and support, voluntary sector support, arts and culture, leisure and sport and community development.


Sevenoaks District Council had worked in partnership with Kent County Council for a number of years to tackle issues of social isolation and loneliness and recognised that that a more holistic approach needed to be adopted. In 2014, Michelle Lowe, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Housing and Health, Sevenoaks District Council, recognised that housing had a direct impact on public health and launched the new housing strategy which focused on improving health and wellbeing through integrated working. The One You service was launched in 2018 through partnership agreement with District and Borough Councils in North and West Kent, the Kent County Council Public Health Team and the Kent Community Health Foundation Trust. The scheme was developed to provide a single point of access for those with more complex needs and tackle wider determinants of health such as: helping people to lose weight, get fitter, quit smoking, improve mental wellbeing, encourage involvement within local communities and provide advice around housing, debt and employment. The Advisers have been trained to carry out loneliness and isolation assessments using a number of nationally set questions, the results revealed that more than 11% of customers scored as feeling emotionally lonely and 12% of people scored as feeling socially lonely. The One You Your Home was another project which extended the remit of the national One You service with a unique focus on older people. The clients within this service were often referred via their GPs (within the Sevenoaks District) who identified that their top 25 most complex patients who could benefit from the service often had mental health, loneliness, depression and housing/financial issues.


The Housing and Health Team at Sevenoaks District Council were able to fund a number of grant schemes through the Better Care Fund which was an ambitious programme across the NHS and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

16:00 - 16:45


Rebecca Jarvis (Head of Strategic Commissioning and Policy, Essex County Council), Kirsty O'Callaghan (Head of Strengthening Communities, Essex County Council) pdf icon PDF 67 KB

Additional documents:


1.            Ms Jarvis and Ms O’Callaghan introduced their roles and explained what those roles entailed.  Ms Jarvis’s portfolio included prevention, digital services, carers and information and guidance, and work to prevent or reduce delays in transfers of care. Ms O’Callaghan was part of the Public Health team and had a background in mental health and learning disability services.  She worked on strengthening the links between Public Health and Adult Social Care and the grants programme for the community.


2.            Ms Jarvis thanked the Select Committee for the invitation to address the committee and tell them about what Essex was doing to address social isolation and loneliness in Essex. She said Essex County Council was committed to the agenda and identifying the wider impacts of social isolation and loneliness and improving the outcomes for vulnerable people.  The work was exciting, and she was keen to share the work that Essex County Council was doing and what it had found in its research.


3.            Ms Jarvis and Ms O’Callaghan presented a series of slides which set out the approach Essex County Council was taking and highlighted key features of its work.  Older people had been involved at the outset in identifying their concerns.  Essex was a very diverse county and 75% of it was rural.  National evidence had shown that those in isolated rural communities were prone to loneliness. Ms O’Callaghan added that loneliness had been linked to the development of dementia, with lonely people being 60% more likely to develop the condition.  She added that 20% of GP appointments were taken by people who were lonely rather than had a medical complaint. 


4.            The case for change had suggested that work needed to be cross-cutting across a range of services; Adult Social Care, Public Health, Housing, Council Tax and Transport, and look at the role each had to play in addressing social isolation and loneliness and how they could work together.  Partners in this work included the volunteer community, health, social care and faith groups, to pursue a shared vision.  A joint working group had started small in its first year but now included more than 40 participants.  Essex had historically taken a traditional approach to addressing social isolation and loneliness by looking to befriending as a solution, however, having spent some time researching the impact of this approach and speaking to multiple citizens and partners, it was now necessary to transform this approach.


5.            Ms Jarvis added that there was much activity going on but there was no joining up or systematic approach, and this now needed to be achieved. It was important not to replicate each other’s efforts but to join them up to make the most effective use of available resources. Ms O’Callaghan added that conditions needed to be established to support safe collaboration.   Ms Jarvis said that a wider issue was the need to stimulate action across communities.  The shared vision of the partners had identified four key ambitions and sought a community response rather than a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.


Appendix pdf icon PDF 883 KB