Aberdeenshire Signposting Project

What was the issue you were addressing or working on?

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.

What you did?

Change Fund investment of £156k over 3 years was initially made to the Signposting Project, and further funding of £89,244 for 2 years was made in July 2012 to support a project to connect like-minded older individuals with others for companionship and company to make trips to cultural events.  This project helped people overcome physical and psychological barriers to accessing cultural activities.  The Signposting Project was able to recruit and train more volunteers and promote the service more widely into community hospitals and GP surgeries.

What were the outcomes - benefits or otherwise?

The project accepts referrals of people over the age of 55.   Between August 2011 and  March 2013 the target to recruit and train 20 volunteers had been achieved. In the first year, 48 people were supported by the project, 20 (42%) of whom were over 75.  In the second year 94 people were supported, of whom 52 (55%) were over 75.  Users who respond to a letter asking for feedback are asked to complete a Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-Being Scale before and after their use of a signposter.  The average score pre-involvement is 31, while the average post-involvement score rises to 37 (22% improvement).  Significant reductions in GP visits and use of prescribed drugs were reported.  Older people/patients have been referred to over 123 local groups, organisations and services.  More than two thirds of these were to local leisure and educational facilities and other activities.  Trends in the prevalence of depression, low mood and isolation have been found.  The ‘Out and About’ project has been successful in offering a safe environment for isolated people to make new social contacts.

Volunteer recruitment remains an issue but plans to obtain central, identifiable office premises with a phone and a drop-in service will help to address this.

Contacts - to find out more

Karen Nicoll, Project Coordinator, karennicoll@signpostingproject.org.uk

01467 793284/ 07926 185195