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Loneliness leading concern for older people


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

3. Frailty

4. Mental health and depression

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0 Responses to Loneliness leading concern for older people

  1. Terina Edwards September 13, 2013 at 12:52 pm #

    I have been working in aged care for 20 plus years in the community and have seen these issues increase in occurrence. Many models have been tried and some have succeeded but one thing I have seen is that larger organisations usually increase the loneliness as clients become numbers or in the very large organisations not even a number. I can relate one very horrific occurrence by a large religiously based organisation who neglected and harassed a client until she ended up in hospital.

    The government needs to be aware of this issue that very large organisations are not the best model and can increase isolation.

    For instance, we have 82 clients whom we support for centre based activities. Some of these clients also get domestic care by the largest organisation. What happens quite often is that this organisation will schedule the cleaning on the same day as the social support, so the client cancels the social support so the cleaner can come. They must wait all day not knowing when the cleaner will turn up, around 50% of the time the cleaner cancels so the person is left at home, isolated and did not receive either service.

    This is happening all over Australia so the waste of money is incredible and the isolation the client experiences increases? Why does this happen, because the needs of the organisations must come before the needs of the clients and yet it is supposed to be the other way round.

    Both organisations and the government need to rethink service provision from the client’s perspective and get rid of these big bureaucratic organisations who have huge funding needs to support top heavy management that get paid outrageous salaries and wages. Put the money back into smaller organisations who can deliver more services at a reduced cost and in a quicker time frame. Then you will see a genuine reduction in isolation!

  2. Peter Leith September 13, 2013 at 4:55 pm #

    Many of the problems Tenna describes (above) stem from the fact that service is provided on a “Top-Down” basis rather than from the ground-up. BIG is regarded as BETTER.
    For over 15 years I hve had the great experience f facilitating small, Current Affairs discussion groups in aged care facilities and home setting. I have observed, at first-hand, the beneficial effect of mental stimulus on the psychological, mental and physical health of otherwise isolated older people.
    Recently I have started bringing together Girl Guides, Brownies and High School students to provide in-home tuition to isolated older people to enable them to keep in touch with family, friends and the world at large, by overcoming their own hesitation in using Mobile and Smart phones, the Internet and SKYPE. It is working but I need more “starters” Are you one?
    By the way I too am 84 and live alone…. Peter Leith.

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