Loneliness and social isolation top the list of main concerns for older people living at home, according to a national survey by fast-growing community care franchise, Just Better Care.
The staff survey of its 30 national offices identified the four main issues of concern for their clients across the nation as loneliness and social isolation followed by mobility and access to transport; loss of independence and lack of finances.
Bernice Daher, executive director of Just Better Care Community Services, said social isolation can often happen insidiously for many people as they develop arthritis or lose confidence in their ability to participate in a range of daily activities. And as families live apart, often across large geographic distances from each other, older people can become socially disconnected from friends and family and experience depression and other mental health issues, said Ms Daher.
She said technology, linking clients into community events, networks and social groups as well as acknowledging the stories of each individual will become increasingly important as service providers and the community address the challenge of ensuring people can remain at home for longer.
The inaugural snapshot survey also outlined the major health concerns of clients which were identified as dementia and memory loss; mobility issues; frailty and mental health and depression.
“Supporting people to come to terms with a diagnosis of dementia and helping them to live their lives as independently as possible with issues around confusion and memory loss was nominated as the biggest health issue by staff and clients.”
Ms Daher said she hoped the survey would help staff become aware of these issues earlier and to ensure the responsiveness of services.
“We want our staff to play an active role; to identify issues of concern early and to work more effectively to increase their independence,” she said.
Chief executive officer of JBC Trish Noakes said the organisation would conduct the snapshot survey each quarter to assess any changes and benchmark the key concerns of older people receiving support in the community over time.
Top issues of concern:
1. Loneliness and social isolation
2. Mobility and access to transport
3. Loss of independence
4. Lack of finances
Top health concerns
1. Dementia and memory loss
2. Mobility issues
4. Mental health and depression