There is no clinical remedy or solution to social isolation, yet someone who is isolated can very easily and quickly deteriorate mentally and physically to the point that they require medical treatment. This is particularly true of the more elderly members of the community, who may become isolated while recovering from an injury or a medical procedure, or through bereavement. However, it can affect people of all ages.
Health leaders in North East Hampshire and Farnham believe that even though they cannot medically treat the isolation, it is in all our interests to identify people who are at risk and to help them so that they do not become detached from society and fall ill as a result.
This is why the Making Connections programme was launched in 2015. Starting in Farnham, it has since spread across the whole of North East Hampshire and Farnham. Working with a number of different agencies, North East Hampshire and Farnham CCG established a process whereby GP surgeries can identify people who they believe might be at risk and can refer them to a team from Age UK Surrey. An Age UK Surrey coordinator will work with the individual person to see what activities they might be interested in and will help them to connect with like-minded people or groups.
It could be that simply going for a cup of coffee or a meal with friends once a week, or walking a dog, or gardening can be all that is needed to maintain a person’s self-confidence and can be the difference between that person staying fit and health or sliding into mental and physical decline.
The individual’s coordinator will support them along the way and tailor the help they provide accordingly.
The result of successful interaction will be taking a person who was in decline and helping them to rediscover their independence and positivity, making them a fully-functioning member of society once again.