The potential ill effects of isolation, loneliness and reduced independence are well documented and can be acute, with compromised physical health due to inactivity and poor mental health being two very particular risks. The Aberdeen City Reshaping Care for Older People partners are very aware of this. ‘Reducing isolation and loneliness’ and ‘optimis(ing) independence’ remain key priorities in their Change Plans, hence their unequivocal backing for the ACBP.
Through its support, the ACBP will seek to directly address these priorities and help prevent the poor health and can otherwise result. The ACBP wants to help ensure that older people’s lives are about ‘living well not just living’.
The Aberdeenshire Signposting Project works by linking people to local organisations, services, clubs and societies in their community that address issues in a person’s life. The Project had become aware of growing numbers of older people at risk of social isolation resulting from life events such as bereavement, move of house because of physical needs, or impact of developing chronic illness. These older people were presenting at GP surgeries with a range of conditions.
There is considerable research and practice based evidence which demonstrates that BME communities are amongst the most disadvantaged in Scottish society. There are significant inequalities between majority and minority populations in health status (mental and physical), financial wellbeing and social capital. BME carers and those in receipt of care suffer an additional disadvantage in that the majority of mainstream support services remain inaccessible and inappropriate.
Problems of language and communication and the inability of providers to respond to religious and cultural requirements effectively prevent or inhibit the take up of services which could have a beneficial effect on their quality of life.
The cumulative effect of this disadvantage is that BME carers and those in receipt of care will experience poorer health, greater financial hardship, more acute caring situations, less support and an overall poorer quality of life.