Care Minister Caroline Dinenage has shared her thoughts on what care homes can do to tackle loneliness, in an article for carehome.co.uk.

The carehome.co.uk opinion piece was written following the launch of a new campaign, "Let’s Talk Loneliness", which aims to tackle the stigma around discussing feelings of loneliness.

Caroline Dinenage highlighted measures that have been taken to help tackle loneliness, especially amongst older people. The world’s first Minister for Loneliness Mims Davies has been appointed and last year the Government published the first ever "Loneliness Strategy", outlining commitments to enhance people’s links to community networks and sources of support.

Caroline Dinenage added: “One of the headline commitments was around social prescribing, which has also been embraced by the NHS Long Term Plan as part of a move towards more person-centred care. Social prescribing will soon become an indispensable tool for GPs who will be supported by a new army of workers. By 2024 all GPs will be able to refer people experiencing loneliness to local community and voluntary services, from choirs to dance classes."

She said frank care home conversations are vital for lonely residents "displaced" from loved ones. Care homes have been advised to visit the campaign website at letstalkloneliness.co.uk, download a toolkit for social media and even consider hosting an event. She added: “With increasing evidence of the detrimental impact loneliness can have on people’s health and wellbeing, it’s essential that care homes encourage open discussion around loneliness and how to tackle it."

The Care Minister wrote: “We should never be ashamed of experiencing these feelings but too many people worry that they will be judged in some way. These conversations are particularly important in places such as care homes where people may feel displaced from friends, family and familiar routines."

Research has recently suggested that loneliness costs the UK economy £1.8 billion a year, with an estimated 1.5 million people over the age of 50 now suffering from chronic loneliness. According to the research, this makes them twice as likely to visit their GP, three times more likely to develop depression and almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with dementia.

The article is available at www.carehome.co.uk.

Last reviewed 2 July 2019