Older people feeling lonely is a concern
Older people feeling lonely is a big concern. Our partner, Nottingham City Homes, works alongside us to help tackle this growing problem.
Its Head of Supported Housing, Antony Dixon, presented at the fourth Annual Tackling Loneliness Forum in July 2019, which was held by Inside Government in Central London.
He spoke to the forum about the work they had done in Nottingham to help engage and support housing tenants.
The Nottingham picture
Nottingham City Homes is responsible for 2,122 independent living tenancies across the city. All tenants are over 60 years old and are based over 68 schemes. There are 45% of them still being of working age. Tenant satisfaction in these schemes sits at a healthy 95%, and they are managed by 36 dedicated full-time (equivalent) staff working with them.
The team at Nottingham City Homes (NCH) has worked hard to improve the living conditions for its residents, by delivering a city-wide ‘Grander Designs’ scheme. This has seen communal spaces benefit from dramatic and contemporary upgrades. The upgrades have introduced colour, elegance and a fresh feel to what had become tired and dated interiors.
Activities to help tackle older people feeling lonely
Two activity coordinators have also been employed to offer a range of events and day-to-day activities. This not only helps to tackle loneliness in older people, but it also helps to improve people’s physical and mental wellbeing.
In fact, in an effort to tackle loneliness with older people head-on, NCH has set up a scheme called the Golden Games. This programme was part of the city’s Fit in the Community scheme, which aims to increase the physical activity levels of residents across Nottingham.
The Golden games
Antony Dixon, said: “The Golden Games was not just about us getting people to be physically active. We recognised very early on that this could be a catalyst to help us tackle loneliness in older people. The games helped to bring people together from our independent living schemes all across the city. We held a range of interesting tasks and activities. These activities all culminated in a celebration event, in which all of our schemes would be competing to win. There were lots of refreshments and plenty of time for people to chat and mix with others. We also had lots of Fit in the Community team members to encourage people to get involved. We know from our feedback that the Golden Games has had a hugely positive impact on the older people we work with. Long may it continue.”
The gloves are on
The physical activity programme has now continued and our events now happen regularly within each of the schemes, such as boxing skills, which is delivered by the ABC Strelley Boxing Club. This has proven popular and it has engaged residents who had previously not participated in the communal life of the scheme.
NCH, which is an ALMO (arms-length management organisation), also focuses its efforts on hosting some regular special lunches and social dining experiences, which do help to bring people together. These events not only make sure everyone has a hearty meal, but they also give people the chance to socialise. Some people who attend the lunches may not see or speak to anyone, from one day to the next. When they come to have lunch with their neighbours and friends, they are able to break that cycle of loneliness.
Antony concluded: “Sadly older people feeling lonely is fast becoming a national epidemic. At NCH we have a responsibility to do what we can for our tenants. We will continue to deliver the programmes that combat loneliness, and look for even more opportunities to bring our residents together.”
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