Argyll and Bute: Timebanking

What was the issue you were addressing or working on?

As noted in the Scottish Care Institute for Excellence – Research briefing 39: Preventing loneliness and social isolation: interventions and outcomes “Older people are particularly vulnerable to social isolation or loneliness owing to loss of friends and family, mobility or income. Social isolation and loneliness impact upon individuals’ quality of life and wellbeing, adversely affecting health and increasing their use of health and social care services”.

It is well known that many older people experience a general sense of ‘uselessness’ and social isolation if their family and community contacts are reduced either through bereavement or their own physical health limitations. This can in turn lead to low levels of depressions, anxiety and poor self-care, further exacerbating poor physical health and mobility.

What you did?

Timebanking works by members contributing time on a voluntary basis for a wide range of tasks, experience and support and then ‘spending’ that time when they themselves require assistance or support. The range of possible ‘deposits’ of time is vast and varied and the ethos of time-banking is the underlying belief that everyone has something to contribute. Time deposits can vary from practical assistance (domestic tasks, simple repairs, gardening, dog walking), technical expertise (computer knowledge, teaching knitting) or emotional support (companionship, listening, advice).

Time bankers can also contribute through involvement in consultations, campaigning or giving information about their experience of services etc. These areas are particularly valuable for some older people who may feel they have not got skills to contribute to the bank.
Older people can receive much needed practical and emotional support from within their own communities and they can contribute to the bank engendering a sense of self worth and confidence – rather than only being ‘receivers’ of support. In addition positive relationships, particularly across generations, are developed, which contribute to a general sense of local community ‘connectedness’.

What were the outcomes - benefits or otherwise?

Developing community resilience is identified as a key work stream in Argyll and Bute’s Change Fund Plan and timebanking in Argyll provides a framework for this development. It is expected that this intervention will contribute toward Change Plan Outcomes of:

  • Emergency admissions and readmissions are reduced.
  • Older people live more active lives fully engaged with their communities.
  • More older people are able to live in their home for longer.
  • Prescribing levels are reduced, particularly for those with level 1 and 2 mental health issues.
  • Community capacity is built and older people are better engaged and active in their communities.

Contacts - to find out more

Glen Heritage, CEO, Argyll Voluntary Action: