New Role Will Combat Loneliness In Elderly

Park House

The Council wants to do what it can to try and prevent feelings of loneliness amongst the elderly in Scilly.

They’re going to hire a staff member who will put on events ranging from films to exercise sessions.

The one-year trial will be funded by a £39,000 underspend in last year’s Community Services budgets, using cash sourced from the NHS, and the staff member will be based at the hospital.

Aisling Hick, who is driving the plan, says lonely pensioners sometimes use medical appointments as a way of finding someone to talk to.

She says with Adult Services, they want to mimic a lot of the good work that has been achieved in Children’s Services, adding that, the person they’re hoping to hire will be, “like Meriel for old people,” referring to Meriel Williams who organises activities for young children at Carn Thomas.

Aisling said she wanted the people using the service to dictate what activities are available, not the Council.

Trials elsewhere have been successful in reducing the number of hospital admissions.

Councillor Christine Savill agreed that it was a prevention strategy where the Council would “spend to save.”

AGE UK has tried a similar scheme in Newquay and Aisling was impressed when she learned how the use of a personal trainer and physiotherapist made a different at an elder care facility which she visited in Tewkesbury.

This person will build upon the, “huge strides” made by the University of the Third Age and will ask elderly residents, “what do you want to do this evening.”

Amanda Martin was uncertain how one person alone could handle to role with the number of potential users and the geography of the islands.

Director, Penny Penn-Howard, gave the example of the successful older persons’ Line Dancing which just needed an organiser whom Penny said was paid a small amount of money.

Marian Bennett felt that by having one paid person in the role other people could be stimulated and inspired to put on some of the events themselves

Mollie Peacock felt there was no point asking, “how we are going to do it” when the Council could “try the waters.”

Amanda said she did support the idea and she explained how an elderly museum volunteer feared that she would never be able to visit an off-island again. The museum set up an annual off-island trip in response to that.

Aisling said if the year-long trial was a success there could be potential to develop the role further.