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Social isolation and loneliness


Introduction

Older people are especially vulnerable to loneliness and social isolation – and it can have a serious effect on health. According to Age UK, more than 2 million people in England over the age of 75 live alone, and more than a million older people say they go over a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member. People can become socially isolated for a variety of reasons, such as getting older or weaker, no longer being the hub of their family, leaving the workplace, the deaths of spouses and friends, or through disability or illness.

Social isolation and loneliness are important, but often neglected, social determinants of health across all ages, including for older people. High-quality social connections are essential to our mental and physical health and our well-being.

There is a clear link between loneliness and poor mental and physical health. A key element of the Government's vision for social care is to tackle loneliness and social isolation, supporting people to remain connected to their communities and to develop and maintain connections to their friends and family.

In the context of the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing (2021-2030), WHO is working with partners to address social isolation and loneliness as pressing public health and policy concerns by:
  • Developing guidance on how to implement and scale up effective interventions to reduce social isolation and loneliness;
  • Improving research and strengthening the evidence for what works; and
  • Creating a global coalition to increase the political priority of social isolation and loneliness among older people.

Data Overview

According to the Sport England Active Lives Survey, 19.5% of adults in Oldham feel lonely 'often, always or some of the time'. This is lower than the North West average of 22.9% and the England average of 22.3% (2019/20). Oldham's rate is second lowest across both Greater Manchester and CIPFA nearest neighbours.

Figure 1: Percentage of adults who feel lonely across Greater Manchester
Source: Active Lives Adult Survey, Sport England 

Figure 2: Percentage of adults who feel lonely across CIPFA nearest neighbours
Source: Active Lives Adult Survey, Sport England 

The Adult Social Care Survey (for service users) asks the question, "Thinking about how much contact you've had with people you like, which of the following statements best describes your social situation?". The below measure represents those who answered "I have as much social contact as I want with people I like". This measure applies to those people in receipt, at the point that data are extracted, of long-term support services funded or managed by social services following a full assessment of need. Data from the 2022/23 survey reveals 38.7% of Oldham's adult social care users have as much social contact as they would like, lower than the regional and national averages (both 41.5%). This places Oldham 5th lowest across Greater Manchester and 7th lowest across CIPFA neighbours.

Figure 3: Percentage of adult social care users who have as much social contact as they like
Source: Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework (ASCOF) based on the Personal Social Services Adult Social Care Survey, NHS Digital 

Figure 4: Percentage of adult social care users who have as much social contact as they like across Greater Manchester
Source: Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework (ASCOF) based on the Personal Social Services Adult Social Care Survey, NHS Digital 

Figure 5: Percentage of adult social care users who have as much social contact as they like across CIPFA nearest neighbours
Source: Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework (ASCOF) based on the Personal Social Services Adult Social Care Survey, NHS Digital 

Latest figures for 2021/22 reveal Oldham to have a considerably lower percentage of carers aged 65+ reporting they are satisfied with their level of social contact compared regional and national rates. This gap has recently developed, with figures being comparable for 2016/17 and 2018/19. Rates are trending downwards across Oldham, North West and England. Oldham has the second lowest level of social contact satisfaction across Greater Manchester and fourth lowest amongst CIPFA nearest neighbours.

Figure 6: Percentage of carers aged 65+ who have as much social contact as they would like
Source: Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework (ASCOF) based on the Personal Social Services Survey of Adult Carers, NHS Digital 

Figure 7: Percentage of carers aged 65+ who have as much social contact as they would like across Greater Manchester
Source: Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework (ASCOF) based on the Personal Social Services Survey of Adult Carers, NHS Digital 

Figure 8: Percentage of carers aged 65+ who have as much social contact as they would like across CIPFA nearest neighbours
Source: Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework (ASCOF) based on the Personal Social Services Survey of Adult Carers, NHS Digital 

Further Information & Resources

Adult Social Care Survey 2022-23 (ASCS) 
This report contains findings from the Adult Social Care Survey 2022-23 (ASCS). The national survey takes place every year and is conducted by Councils with Adult Social Services Responsibilities (CASSRs).
The survey seeks the opinions of service users aged 18 and over in receipt of long-term support services funded or managed by social services and is designed to help the adult social care sector understand more about how services are affecting lives to enable choice and for informing service development.

NHS - Loneliness
NHS advice on dealing with loneliness and social isolation.

UN Decade of Healthy Ageing : Plan of Action
This document describes the plan for a Decade of Healthy Ageing (2021–2030), which will consist of 10 years of concerted, catalytic, sustained collaboration. Older people themselves will be at the centre of this plan, which will bring together governments, civil society, international agencies, professionals, academia, the media and the private sector to improve the lives of older people, their families and their communities. It is the second action plan of the WHO Global strategy on ageing and health, building on the United Nations Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing and aligned with the timing of the United Nations Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals.

WHO Social isolation and loneliness among older people: advocacy brief
This advocacy brief on social isolation and loneliness among older people highlights the growing public health and policy concern about these issues, which have been made more salient by the COVID-19 pandemic. The brief summarizes the scale, impact, and harms of social isolation and loneliness among older people, and outlines what can be done to reduce them. This brief also describes several policy windows that offer opportunities for addressing social isolation and loneliness among older people and proposes a three-point global strategy for tackling these issues.



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Contact


Health and Wellbeing Board

Oldham Council

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